Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire

Burger restaurants must evolve and innovate to survive as category grows increasingly crowded

Burgers-0206When Gourmet Burger Kitchen first entered the market in 2001, there weren’t any restaurants doing burgers particularly well in the UK, despite how popular the category was. Fast forward to 2016 and a whole raft of competitors have entered the fray, with Meat Liquor, Shake Shack and Patty and Bun all offering their own take on one of the world’s favourite foods, with interesting twists on the casual dining experience.

But as the competition intensifies, how can burger restaurants continue to offer a unique selling point when so many places are selling the same product? Is there a danger that as some burger places expand and open more outlets, they will become generic and bland, losing what made them so intriguing in the first place?

Looking around the burger sector there are some outlets which are using music to achieve that stand out factor and are reaping the rewards. Meat Liquor is a great example. Going into one of its restaurants, you feel like you are in a neighbourhood joint which also serves burgers, beer and cocktails. The music is served loud and proud like their famous ‘Dead Hippy’ burger.

MeatLiquor_2233047kMeat Liquor appears to go against all the rules in terms of music: it’s stupendously loud and they blast out pounding tunes in a restaurant – but it works. And when you have music which works, it will encourage customers to stay in the restaurant longer and spend more money because they want that feel good factor to continue. Even though the Meat Liquor concept has been going for a while now, you still have to queue to get in, proving it’s just as popular a place as it ever was.

The burger sector is laid back and casual, which consumers love. They can just hang out, enjoying good music and a buzzy atmosphere, rather than having a stuffy formal dining experience. We are seeing a lot of this relaxed dining environment at the moment where you get a sort of home from home feel. It’s also evident in the rise of street food culture in the UK.

Patty&Bun_2045Patty and Bun are doing music really well too, with genres covering reggae, dancehall, hip hop, house, RnB and electronica. There’s even a Patty and Bun playlist which you can download for Spotify, which provides a reminder of the great time you had there and an incentive to visit again. The music in Patty and Bun makes it feel more like a bar than a restaurant and the focus is totally on comfort and comfort food. It has a rebellious and fun edge to it which people love.

When you look at how these places are using music to help them stand out in the burger sector, it makes you wonder if there is more some of the other big burger places could be doing with their playlists to draw customers in and keep them there. And could all of them use digital to enhance their brand too?
Patty and Bun have created a really fun, quirky time-lapse video to show that they do take-away, with a burger making the journey from a London restaurant all the way to Brighton pier. Could this be the start of something special?

More Patty and Bun videos telling stories about the exploits of their burgers? Could these be shown on integrated digital screens in the ‘eat in’ environment? It would certainly fit the low key, chilled vibe of the brand and keep customers entertained.

GBKNewSliderOther burger brands could take a leaf out of the book of burger fun that Meat Liquor and Patty and Bun have embraced. Gourmet Burger Kitchen upped the style stakes when it first came to market and was one of the first casual dining restaurants that really cared about the décor and the space that customers came into. Now the industrial, retro look has been much copied. So how can GBK stand out in this now very crowded space?

Looking at GBK the brand has a strong antipodean back story. This could be elevated, both by showcasing some of the latest sounds from Australia and New Zealand, and bringing the characterful burgers like the ‘Kiwi burgers’ to life. Fused with the present and future sound of the UK this could create a unique culture clash sound. Clever animation can really work on digital screens, telling stories and providing a cool and contemporary digital aesthetic.

stampede_screenshotStampede is a new player in the sector, recently opened at Lakeside. By elevating the usual ‘digital menu screen’ we were able to show a series of stunning photos of the food on offer, plus animation layered on top to create a sense of interest and movement, alongside the menu, prices, and a rolling-display of the eye-catching ‘bull’ themed logo on magenta background. The striking display, presented across a series of screens, at different levels, is to attract customers in a busy food retail environment and to also reflect the brand’s sense of fun and maverick attitude.

It will be interesting to see what direction burger restaurants take next. One thing is true: restaurants will get left behind if they don’t evolve and innovate.

Article by Aisha Nanor, head of digital and music Kaleidovision

Aisha-NanorAbout Aisha:

Aisha has headed the music team at Kaleidovision since 2004. With her extensive knowledge and understanding of musical genres, Aisha’s expertise is invaluable to our clients. Most people who know her would agree that she brings a huge amount of dynamism and energy to whatever she’s doing.

One of Aisha’s initiatives has been to select musicians and DJs to expand the music team, so that their specialist insight can enhance the division’s profiling work. Growing up in a musical family, Aisha is a frequent concert-goer, a regular visitor to Ibiza, enjoys going to clubs and festivals and listens to a vast and eclectic range of music.

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