The Social Analytics Story of Wendy's Breakfast Expansion

As we journey to the next step in our fast food saga, following closely on the heels of the great chicken war, we see Wendy’s making a move to capture the breakfast crowd. Will its efforts be successful? The social analytics story of Wendy’s breakfast expansion hasn’t been written yet, and we have ideas to help them along.

When Wendy’s announced its plan to bring breakfast items to restaurants across the U.S. in 2020, online was fairly underwhelmed and investors were decidedly skeptical, with the chain’s stock dropping 11%:

Social analytics shows Wendys online audience was fairly underwhelmed and investors were decidedly skeptical, with the chain’s stock dropping

That’s because Wendy’s has tried breakfast before – several times in the past decade actually, “including a 2010 plan to launch in 1,000 test markets that eventually petered out. In 2014, then-CEO Emil Brolick maintained that the chain would not push into breakfast” as they had they’d found “it’s very difficult to enter that space today and commit the kind of marketing resources that we feel would be necessary to really entrench ourselves successfully,” Brolick said at the time.

The fast food chain currently has about 5,800 U.S. locations and only serves breakfast in 300 of them.

So, how can they prove investors wrong and experience success this time around? Taco Bell sets the gold standard for a successful fast serve breakfast launch, so we’ll explore it in that light.

Yo Quiero Taco Bell?

In 2016, when Taco Bell decided to enter a new daypart and take the breakfast plunge, it didn’t go in blind. It used online insight, captured using NetBase’s best-in-class social listening platform, to monitor sentiment before, during and after the launch.

The real-time social insight helped Taco Bell understand:

  • Where the conversations were happening, from a geographical perspective
  • What conversations were emerging within the last hour

Using that intel, they were able to immediately identify key conversations on the East Coast, where consumers were frustrated about locations running out of products. Taco Bell was able to mobilize immediately to ensure that same problem was avoided in other locations and to restock stores experiencing shortages. This is something Popeye’s could have benefitted from recently, as its stores ran out of chicken sandwiches nationwide causing tons of consumer chaos and negativity. And it’s yet to recover.

So how did Taco Bell so effectively “take the pulse” of its audience? How indeed!

Live Pulses

Taco Bell also used NetBase’s Live Pulse capability, which creates an executive dashboard to inform rapid decision-making. And moving quickly was key during this lively time.

Using Taco Bell breakfast launch to inform Wendys social analytics

Live Pulse dashboards are customizable snapshots of key intel captured in way that’s easy to navigate and offers immediate access to a brand’s most pressing needs. It allows everyone on your team to stay focused on the same priorities. And it aggregates your customer voice data from multiple, key sources, analyzing it all in one place for a powerful overview of how your brand, campaign or category is doing.

Live Pulse dashboards are customizable snapshots of key intel captured in way that’s easy to navigate and offers immediate access to a brand’s most pressing needs

But the folks at Taco Bell are social media analytics pros, so Live Pulses are second nature. They’ve been using NetBase since 2012 for a variety of purposes, informing all parts of the enterprise, including:

  • Operational aspects
  • Customer care excellence
  • Brand authenticity
  • Product innovation and campaigns

Social Analytics for Everything

Taco Bell is using social analytics for everything, and Wendys can too

As Billy Grenham, Global Director Marketing and Communications at Taco Bell elaborates, NetBase allows them to gain valuable insight about customers across the globe ahead of launching into a new market.

Wendy’s could do that as well. Right now, conversation is happening across the U.S., but there are three cities demonstrating the most activity. Could it make sense to launch there first? Possibly. Some more digging would be in order to support that assertion, but it’s a start – and one we’d be happy to show them how to explore!

Top locations sourced by social analytics where Wendys audience is most vocal

Running NetBase dashboards 24/7, Billy and his team use geofencing to uncover local trends that transform into customer experiences like the following performances:

  • Punk rock in the UK
  • Electric dance music in India
  • Underground hip hop in Tokyo
  • Local art in the Netherlands

And people are waiting in line overnight, kicking down the door to get in to their restaurants because of it. They’ve defined what their audience wants and what they really care about. And consumers flock to their offerings. It’s all been discovered by spotting audience adjacencies in the customer experience analytics that the tool provides.

Will Wendy’s be Ready?

Wendy’s could – and should – take advantage of similar capabilities to create its own Live Pulse ahead of its launch.

If both Taco Bell and Popeye’s have taught us anything, it’s this: when a food item catches on online, it can sell out much faster than predicted. And online offers the fastest, more accurate estimation of what’s happening on the ground.

And although it’s not food-related, Build-a-Bear offers lessons about biting off more than a brand can chew as well. Dealing with an avoidable consumer fall-out later is an unfortunate waste of resources. Social analytics will help Wendy’s plan ahead.

These are all suggestions, of course. And Taco Bell is light years ahead of the competition when it comes to taking advantage of what the social analytics insight tells them, even creating a micro-targeting app at one point that experienced amazing results.

And as it stands right now, Wendy’s has yet to start promoting its upcoming breakfast offering on social. But once they’re ready to go (and that should be very soon if they want to really attack this and hit it right this time!), we have lots of ideas to help them along. Tons.

Maybe they’ll reach out for a demo of the possibilities? Maybe you should too!

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