Where's the beef? Try looking under the foie gras and truffle butter, Jeeves. Wendy's has returned to Japan after a two-year hiatus but former customers might be hard pressed to recognize the burger chain, let alone pay for its high-priced gourmet offerings.
At Wendy's Japan, the upper crust starts where the bun ends. The Foie Gras Rossini Burger? Do Tell, William, and don't tell the kiddies you just ordered them a glorified Liver Burger. Then again, at $16-odd bucks a pop you won't want to tempt the little monsters even slightly.
It's an interesting marketing tactic to be sure: the opposite of the tried and true Loss Leader concept. That's where customers are lured with an item priced irresistibly low in the hopes that once in the store, they can be persuaded to buy something pricier.
Wendy's, on the other hand, hopes to lure buyers with an outlandishly high-priced offering in the hopes that once in the store... they'll buy it. Who runs their marketing department, George “holding out for less” Costanza?
But we digress – back to the big bucks burger. The 1,280 yen ($16.40) Foie Gras Rossini Burger tops the new Japan Premium Menu by virtue of its toppings: truffle butter, demiglace sauce and foie gras on the beef patty; tomato, red onion and what looks like watercress beneath. Zut alors!
Rounding out the luxurious line are the the Truffle and Porcini Grilled Chicken (920 yen or $11.80), the Avocado Wasabi Burger (820 yen or $10.50), and the Chili Burger (780 yen or $10).
Well-heeled burger buyers may have to wait a bit for the other Japan Premium Menu offerings as, according to Tokyo Five, only the Rossini Burger was available at the December 27th, 2011 store opening.
Higa Industries partnered with Wendy's to create the new & improved Wendy's Japan LLC, and the company's first new store reflects insight input by those who know the lay of the land.
“Our food will be served in a contemporary, inviting atmosphere,” explained Ernie Higa of Higa Industries, “that we believe will exceed the discerning expectations of Japanese consumers.”
Siting the revamped chain's first store in Tokyo's ritzy Omotesando district is one key to attracting the type of Japanese consumers who would drop $16 bucks on a burger. It remains to be seen how these mega-priced meals will go over in other, less wealthy parts of Japan after Wendy's has opened a further 700 stores.
Then there's the "shadow" effect on Wendy's regular, high-volume items: a Wendy's Classic Double kinda pales in comparison with its high-end, bonus-pocketing, better-than-the-bourgeoisie burger big brother. (via Fastcasual, NewzJapan and Tokyo Five)