Burger King has introduced a McRib knockoff meant to rival the famous McDonald’s sandwich, but the new boneless pork sandwich won’t really offer much competition to the Golden Arches company.
The new Burger King McRib is part of the fast food chain’s summer menu, introduced this week along with 12 other new items including a Memphis BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. Burger King didn’t specifically say its McRib sandwich was meant to rival McDonald’s, but many business analysts took it that way.
Even the description of the Burger King McRib sandwich sounded like McDonalds, a “juicy boneless rib patty with a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce” that is “topped with crispy bread and butter pickles” served on a “warm toasted artisan style bun.” The only difference appeared to be onions, present on McDonald’s version of the McRib and absent on Burger King’s imitation.
Though there may be similarities, Burger King doesn’t present much of a threat to McDonald’s version of the McRib. The McDonald’s McRib sandwich, which is intermittently on the menu, has cut out a niche audience.
“We know our customers love McRib and we won’t disappoint them!” said McDonalds spokesperson Ofelia Casillas. “It will be returning.”
The McDonald’s McRib has amassed a following so devoted that they even keep track of the sandwich with a McRib locator.
For McDonald’s, the scarcity of the McRib is part of the marketing plan. The absence builds up anticipation among fans, and the sandwich is then inserted into the menu during the slower winter period when it can boost sales a bit.
“The winter is seasonally a slower period,” said Howard Penney, restaurant analyst and managing director at Hedgeye Risk Management, told Ad Age in the fall when McDonalds announced the McRib sandwich delay. “A lot of people underestimated the massive impact the weather had on sales.”
The Burger King McRib may offer the same advantage to the fast food chain, but it’s unlikely to cut into the popularity — or the sales — of McDonald’s original version.