SEOUL, Oct. 2 (Korea Bizwire) – The hamburger, which was once the symbol of cheap and unhealthy food in Korea, has started to ride a high-end wave. Now the hamburger is turning into healthier, fancier option with luscious patties, crunchy vegetables, exotic sauces and the addition of various toppings that will make your mouth water the minute they are named. Corporate franchises, who gave hamburgers a bad name in the first place, are setting their sights on better quality burgers.
According to industry watchers, the corporate franchise that started the move upscale was McDonald’s.
McDonald’s launched its first premium menu item in August, the ‘Signature Burger’. The company adopted a digital ordering system so customers can choose their own ingredients and toppings, creating a ‘signature burger’ that suits them.
Customers can select between two types of bread, and even replace it with lettuce if they are worried about carbs. Bacon dipped in maple syrup, six types of vegetables including onions and tomatoes, cheeses such as cheddar, pepper jack and provolone, and eight different types of sauces are ready to be selected.
The Signature Burger, which can be assembled in more than 11,000 different ways, is served to customers at their table instead of being picked up at the cash like other orders at McDonalds. The burger starts at 7,500 won, which is slightly higher than other products, which are priced between 4,000 and 5,000 won. Even so, the burger has been a big hit, with McDonalds selling 1,000 of them when they were first launched at its Sinchon store on August 12. So far, customer feedback has been positive.
“Yes, it is a slightly more expensive than other products, but the concept is ‘fine dining’, so we are trying to provide better burgers by grilling the patties when the order comes in and bringing the food to the consumers’ table,” said McDonald’s officials, explaining their intentions behind the new product.
Unlike McDonald’s, which directly manages its stores, Burger King and Lotteria both run affiliated stores, making it difficult to provide services like the ‘Signature Burger’.
Since Burger King and Lotteria franchises can only ‘produce’ their burgers according to a manual, they are coming up with different strategies to elevate the quality of their products.
Burger King officials say that they provide customers with premium high-end burgers that are only sold for a limited period of time. “The Quattro Cheese Burger, which was launched in the summer, was a big hit in the Korean market. So we are re-exporting it to the U.S. We also launched the Mushroom Whopper and Mushroom Steak Burger for the fall, and the reaction has been pretty good.”
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)