Wendy’s (WHOM) has slowly grown to become the second largest hamburger chain behind McDonald’s (MCD) . The chain has passed that of Restaurant Brands International (QSR) Burger King for second place in the United States by following a fairly simple formula.
Using fresh, never-frozen beef sounds like a gimmick, but it makes Wendy’s operations more difficult compared to its two major competitors. Frozen burger patties almost never end up in the trash, while fresh ones have to be used up fairly quickly.
Basically, Wendy’s made quality fresh food its destination cars long before Chipotle even existed. In addition to this model, the chain has also used clever menu innovations to build market share. A strategy that has led to the great success of the Baconator, which started as a burger variant and has now developed into a platform.
The chain has Baconator Fries and the Breakfast Baconator — two variations on the original that use mostly the same ingredients. Wendy’s doesn’t make many menu changes and that makes any moves it makes a big deal.
That’s why fans freaked out last summer when Wendy’s added the Strawberry Frosty for a limited time. That meant getting rid of the Vanilla Frosty, since the Frosty machine only holds two flavors at a time.
And while Wendy’s has added other Frosty flavors in international markets, it hasn’t in the United States. Now the chain is teasing fans with a bold new Frosty, which has so far only popped up on social media and at one pretty big event.
Wendy’s Trolls fans with a Purple Frosty
At TwitchCon 2022, an event for gaming video platform Amazon, Wendy’s showed off a new Frosty flavor. It’s purple and topped with nerds candy, making it essentially a product built for social media.
Fans, as you might imagine, were keen to know what they were watching, but Wendy’s responses were kind of dry.
“It’s very good,” the fast-food company replied to a comment, without describing what it actually tastes like.
The chain told fans on Twitter who asked about the dessert that they could grab it at their booth at TwitchCon, but then posted something suggesting it might have a future as a menu item.
“I was just testing it today, but you never know,” the company said.
While Wendy’s (like McDonald’s) has wasted money building a Metaverse presence that no one ever asked for, the chain has done a very good job of generating social media buzz. McDonald’s may be king when it comes to using social media to garner viral attention and do real market research with its “Bring back ____” tweet, but Wendy’s has created a playful and engaging Twitter feed.
With this unnamed, who knows how it tastes, Wendy’s has created a kind of perfect storm. It’s visually appealing, so people who had access to it at TwitchCon shared images, and that’s caused quite a stir as the company’s feed lights up with people asking questions and sharing opinions.
Wendy’s actually never gives out any information about the new Frosty and just lets fans take the conversation in all possible directions by stopping by with some succinct (but uninformative) comments. That could make the Purple Frosty a hit before anyone ever tries it.
This could create a new model for limited-time fast-food deals, where chains make people want an item before they put it in stores. That could cause demand and anticipation to build until an actual release becomes a big event.