Burger King this weekend will add a new item to the menu: bone-in pork ribs. The offering, which the fast feeder will advertise in national TV spots, carries a hefty price tag of $7.19 for an eight-piece meal.
BK claims it is the first national chain to put bone-in ribs on the menu. After two years of heavy discounting prompted by the recession, fast-food operators are increasingly trying to wean consumers off of those budget deals by turning to higher-priced items, as well as combo and value menu meals. BK is offering the ribs, served with dipping sauce, as a snack, add-on item or a meal. Consumers can add a three-piece serving to a BK Value Meal for an additional $1.99; snack on three-and six-piece servings for $2.99 and $5.69, respectively, or go for the $7.19 eight-piece serving.
The limited-time offering will be promoted via national TV and in-restaurant merchandising. The TV spots, from Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, use the old adage, “when pigs fly.” One 30-second commercial shows a pig with wings convincing a skeptical customer that BK now offers authentic ribs.
John Schaufelberger, svp of global product marketing and innovation at BK, said tests of the new ribs “exceeded our expectations.” In a statement, he cited the chain’s new broilers, adding that “because of this proprietary cooking technology, we’ve been able to up the ante in our product development across the board, and BK fired-grilled ribs are just the beginning of the innovative product line we can offer with this new cooking platform.”
While restaurant traffic is still down—and has been slipping since January 2009—consumers who cut back on restaurant visits said price discounts and other deals “are less important motivators” now than last year, per a report released by the NPD Group last week. The research firm found that while operators will try to move more consumers away from steep discounts—by offering deals like combo meals and value menus—they are also placing more emphasis new product launches.
“We’re seeing more product introductions on menus because consumers are always looking for the next thing, especially recession-weary consumers,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant analyst. “Typically these new products have higher price points to help offset the cost of the deals.”