You want fries with that?

May 16, 2013 | By More
A deceptively simple question to increase sales

A deceptively simple question to increase sales

“You want fries with that?”

If you have not spent any time in the USA, you may not be know that the slogan is made famous by McDonalds. The tagline simultaneously acknowledges that its fries are not to be missed, and that you are there to buy some other product, presumably one of their famous hamburgers.

Size obviously does matter for Carl's Jr

Size obviously does matter for Carl’s Jr

The product, a simple piece of minced beef between two pieces of bread bun, has evolved as a result of competition and other fast food chains such as Burger King, Wendy’s, In-N-Out, Carl’s Jr, and so on. McDonald’s have been able to state that they have served “billions and billions” and is available at almost every corner of the developed world, including India although there the meat is chicken.

The burger, as a product itself, has become so common that it needed additional differentiation for itself. Burger King’s burgers are ‘flame broiled’ although the closest it comes to a flame is probably the infrared lamp heating it! McDonalds’ tries to entice you by their mysteriously mouthwatering ‘fries’, Wendy’s burgers are square and Mos Burgers presents other alternatives between the buns.

Did you actually see any flames in the kitchen?

Did you actually see any flames in the kitchen?

The primary principle is this:

First, make sure your product, whatever it is, addresses the fundamental user need or primary problem – in the case of burgers, it is a fast way to solve your hunger pangs.

In the USA, it is also a low cost way because few ready-to-eat food can be cheaper than a hamburger. In many other countries, such as Singapore, there are other lower cost alternatives, and they are not necessarily faster food either. The positioning has to be different. [read more about product positioning here].  Each hamburger restaurant chain therefore has to differentiate from other non-burger alternatives (also considered as ‘competition’).

Long lines for this chain with the shortest menu

Long lines for this chain with the shortest menu

So you will need to add other factors to entice the customer to choose your product. These are ‘differentiators’. They can be in the form of unique features to the product, such as ‘flame broiled’ or special sauce – or unique complements to the primary product, such as fries. The main reason is still the primary product, burgers.

Therefore the key to a successful product is to:

First identify what problem you want to solve and define the primary functions and features of your product to solve that problem.

Then identify the differentiators that will make it stand out from the crowd.

Now, apply this principle to your product.


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About the Author ()

EngTong, pioneer and innovator. Graduated from Imperial College London with an MBA from Cranfield School of Management. Lived in Scotland, England, California, Beijing and led teams in Italy, France, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia to do the impossible. Now based in Singapore and believes the future is to blend the sophistication of western management practices with the strength of Asian Values. Trained as a Chartered Engineer. Member of IET, Associate of City and Guilds and a certified SixSigma Champion.

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