After introducing new menu items, fast-food giant Burger King also decided to make some changes to their traditional items. The chain announced that they will be adjusting the wording of the menu in order “to be more respectful of” their Muslim customers.
As an international chain, Burger King is a formidable competitor in the fast-food market. The company now boasts more than 17,000 locations with plans to open another 3,000 in Brazil, Russia, India, and China alone. However, along with its expansion, the brand is making some major marketing changes.
Burger King has recently decided to try to incorporate certain social issues into its extensive menu. The company has featured items geared toward the LGBTQ, the vegetarian lifestyle, and even Net Neutrality. However, along with providing special promotional options, the franchise has now decided to adjust its menu in an effort to be more sensitive to the needs of Muslim customers.
According to Business Insider, Burger King has announced that it will remove the word “ham” from items across its menu in order “to be more respectful of” its Muslim client base. The items that will be the first to receive the change include the “Double Spicy Hamburger,” which will become the “Double Spicy Burger”; the “Triple Hamburger with Cheese,” which will be changed to the “Triple Burger with Cheese”; and the children’s “Hamburger King Jr,” which will be renamed the “Kids Burger.”
The changes will initially affect only South African locations but may expand to other countries’ franchises. Of course, the modification is merely an issue of perception, as the name “hamburger” is in reference to the German city of Hamburg, where the food was believed to be conceived. Additionally, hamburgers by definition do not contain ham or any other pork product, leaving many to wonder why such an effort is being made.
Oddly, the name changes come immediately after the chain began serving bacon in the locations, sparking controversy and confusion. Until just recently, all stores in the nation were fully halal, catering to its Muslim clientele. South African chief operating officer Juan Klopper explained that the brand is hoping to clear up any questions about the decision.
“It is just to be super-sensitive to perceptions, and to be super clear,” he said.
The chain appears to have made the change in response to concerns by Muslim customers regarding the “ham” part of the name. Still, non-profit organization Majlisush Shura Al Islami certifies that Burger King’s South African outlets are operating in compliance with Sharia law.
Now that the locations have added bacon to the menu, the halal certification of some outlets is likely to come into question. Still, the restaurant maintains that it will accommodate its Muslim customers with halal options as often as possible, ensuring that no pork will come into contact with their food options. Additionally, the chain has promised to offer more vegan and vegetarian items “in the very near future.”
As such, 44 outlets in South Africa have dropped their halal certification in order to serve bacon, which has proved popular in other countries. Still, the fast-food giant hopes to reach out to Muslim customers but is finding difficulty in appeasing both Muslim and non-Muslim clients.
Although Burger King has scratched “ham” from its menu in some locations, it is merely signaling to a very small minority of customers. As such, the chain is desperately attempting to please both sides of its customer base but is slowly discovering that it is an impossibility.
Some non-Muslim customers might not like the chain offering halal menu options, and some Muslims might not like even the mere mention of a pork product, even if it’s a misnomer. The fast-food giant is going to have to decide if it values the patronage of the majority or the minority. It certainly can’t please both.