Who are you really, Wendy?
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Wendy’s (NASDAQ: WEN) seems to be suffering a crisis of conscience lately. I can’t quite put my finger on where their marketing team is steering them. The new Redbird Coffee line is obviously a blow against the market share that McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) and Dunkin Donuts have been steadily stealing from Starbucks, but they also are touting their new mac n’ cheese, chili cheese fries, and baked sweet potatoes.
That assortment alone is enough to leave one pretty confused. While I rejoice at the chili cheese fries, my vegetarian, health-conscious, recent college-graduate girlfriend is ecstatic at the thought of a fast food baked sweet potato. This, I think, is a perfect representation of what Wendy’s is; and that is something different to everyone. The Triple Baconator (please bring it back, Wendy) appeals to the pathetic gluttons such as myself, and the surprisingly good salads appeal to the more “my body is a temple” type.
Sure, McDonald’s, Burger King, and the rest have healthy offerings, but I come up short when I think of anyone that goes to these places in search of something healthy. Yes, I realize this is a less than scientific study, but think about it (and please comment if you feel otherwise). In my experience, Wendy’s is the only viable choice for the dieting person. This is because of their focus on good salads, baked potatoes, apple slices (really), and chili, and the ability to choose a side other than fries.
On the other hand, with items like the Baconator, cheesy cheddar burger, and the Oreo Frosty parfait, it is possible to indulge. The strange thing is that while the food tends to be on two sides of the health spectrum, the branding shoots for the middle. The new tagline vaguely and mysteriously claims “Now That’s Better.” True, other chains take the same strategy with McDonald's (I'm Lovin' It), Burger King ("Exciting Things Are Happening"), and Dunkin Donuts ("America Runs on Dunkin") all selling more of a lifestyle than a product, but it's still fairly clear and ingrained what these brands stand for.
So I am interested to see where Wendy’s goes with their brand, because right now people have decided what the brand means to them. Once Wendy’s finds a way to vocalize these feelings in their messaging it should do a good deal for the stock.
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