Riding Category Trends: McDonald’s Mighty Wings
According to BAV data, the NFL is a leadership brand among several specific constituents, such as adults, males, and of course, football fans. McDonald’s, on the other hand, is well known and loved, but like all mass market brands, must work hard to differentiate itself in an effort to attract these same consumers (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Football Fans view McDonald’s as a highly Relevant brand. The partnership with NFL will help McDonald's build Differentiation.
Unfortunately, history has shown that brands that fail to differentiate themselves run the risk of becoming commoditized. While BAV data indicates that consumers don’t currently perceive McDonald’s as Different or Dynamic - two key attributes that drive brand differentiation and leadership - the partnership with the NFL provides McDonald’s with the opportunity to improve these perceptions by associating with a powerfully differentiated partner. In highlighting this unique relationship with the NFL and introducing products known to be popular among football fans, McDonald’s can resist commoditization while simultaneously improving their overall brand image.
But, as the girlfriends and wives of football fanatics are well aware, football fans can gorge on more than just wings on game night. So why the obsession with wings specifically? BAV data shows it’s a category trend - it seems football fans view dining brands that are closely associated with chicken, such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Popeye’s, more favorably than the general population (Figure 2). Specifically, the brands in this competitive set have more Energized Differentiation, Relevance and Esteem than dining brands that don’t specialize in chicken. In this way, football fans not only love and consume wings more than others, but they find them inherently different than other Sunday night football options.
Figure 2. Brands that serve chicken have stronger Brand Equity among Football Fans than among Males and All Adults. By serving Chicken Wings, McDonald’s will appeal to the tastes of this segment.
As a result, McDonald’s addition of Mighty Wings to their menu goes beyond positioning themselves as synonymous with game night. Once considered a ubiquitous brand that lacked differentiation in the eyes of adult males and football fans, McDonald’s is hopeful that the introduction of Mighty Wings will frame them as increasingly relevant in the eyes of this specific population on more than just Sunday evenings. Sure, McDonald’s could have tried to adopt football fans as their own by partnering with the NFL alone. But, they went one step further by associating their brand with a product that football fans love and relate to. In so doing, McDonald’s positioned itself to obtain positive brand-rub among NFL fans by embodying the qualities of brands associated with chicken.
Other brands should take note of McDonald’s innovative strategy to attract particular customers. By attaching to a successful category and partner brand that is differentiated among their target audiences, and by identifying exactly what aspects of that category these consumers are attracted to, brands can increase in Energized Differentiation through product innovation.