Keepin’ up with Mukbangs
If there are two things most of us can relate to the past few years, it’s the COVID-19 pandemic and the food price surge. Restrictions associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic have altered families’ eating habits over the past 2 years. Although many families made the healthier option of home-cooked meals, other families resorted to a more convenient choice: fast food. And it’s not necessarily the cheaper choice.
Growing food prices and increased labor costs are a struggle the fast-food industry has encountered for the past 2 years. To cope with price-conscious consumers, fast food restaurant brands have taken harsh measures. Domino’s Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ) downsized their carryout chicken wing deal from 10 pieces to 8. The price of Hot-N-Ready pizza from Little Caesars has increased for the first time. Burger King (NYSE: QSR) eliminated paper coupon deals, and Taco Bell (NYSE: YUM) increased the prices on their value menu.
Fast-food restaurant brands just may have found a value-added strategy to cope with the pricing pressure of their menu – collaborations with celebrities. The partnerships between fast-food restaurant brands and celebrities are effortless. The restaurant brands don’t have to spend millions on research and development strategies to create a new menu. The fast-food restaurant brands simply take the existing menu items, rebrand them, and position them to appeal to the younger audience with star power as their sauce. Put merely, fast-food restaurants are not offering anything brand new.
Celebrities have always endorsed brands by contributing their influential names, public images, personalities, and lifestyles to represent the brands. Regardless of whether it is a personal choice or a professional choice. The trend in partnerships is proving to be beneficial for the fast-food restaurant brands and celebrities, especially targeting the younger audience. It’s not an average marketing collaboration; it is a unification of pop culture and entrepreneurial vision of the fast-food restaurant brands.
Restaurants target the young audience to download the restaurant apps or join loyalty programs to gain access to the promotional meals and limited-edition merchandise collection. Young audiences become unintentional marketers and flood social media with ‘Mukbangs’, an online broadcast in which a host consumes various quantities of food while interacting with the audience. Restaurants benefit from the free, organic promotion provided by these ‘unintentional marketers’ who are enjoying the ‘rebranded menu’ and showcasing limited-edition merchandise online.
Of course, all investments come with risks. Celebrity partnerships could carry considerable downside if the star gets negative publicity. For example, Travis Scott’s collaboration with McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD), may have not seemed as appealing after the controversial and fatal crowd-rushing incident at Scott’s Astroworld festival.
It makes sense then that restaurant brands prefer limited-time and limited-edition partnership offerings with celebrities. With less time for unforeseeable trouble to brew, sweet deals keep flowing, and Mukbangs hopefully stay affordable, so they don’t eat you out of house and home.