It’s a new era in fast food. Last decade everyone was asking which food was the healthiest. Now growth is global, and it all comes down to dominance. The bigger they are, the bigger they’ll get.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Subway has trumped McDonald’s in the US and abroad, though McDo continues to rule in sales dollars:
At the end of last year, Subway had 33,749 restaurants worldwide, compared to McDonald’s 32,737. The burger giant disclosed its year-end store count in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing late last month.
Subway has achieved its rapid growth, in part, by opening outlets in non-traditional locations such as an automobile showroom in California, an appliance store in Brazil, a ferry terminal in Seattle, a riverboat in Germany, a zoo in Taiwan, a Goodwill store in South Carolina, a high school in Detroit and a church in Buffalo, New York.
“We’re continually looking at just about any opportunity for someone to buy a sandwich, wherever that might be. The closer we can get to the customer, the better,” Mr. Fertman says, explaining that it now has almost 8,000 Subways in unusual locations. “The non-traditional is becoming traditional.”
Growth is important for global fast food, but so is dominance. So much of consumers’ fast food choices has more to do with the gist of marketing conversation than with simple convenience.
Ten years ago most of the chain restaurant marketing conversation centered around nutrition information. McDonalds debuted its bistro salad line. Subway outgrew McDonalds in the US around that time when Jared, a hugely popular spokesman, dropped several sizes on a Subway-centric diet.
Nutrition no longer seems to rule the game. Subway’s more recent growth comes from opening restaurants in unexpected nooks and crannies. Nutrition is important, but growth in a global marketplace relies on control. Just look at the drop in cigarette sales that corresponds to when the nanny state gained more control than tobacco companies.
For framing every freedom-loving American can appreciate, think of Subway’s Asian dominance this way: America is colonizing the global fast-food market through choice. It’s the chain that lets every customer choose every sandwich ingredient that represents America in the rest of the world.
In this new era of FLOTUS-ruled health mandates let’s see whether it’s demand-centered business or government-mandated health requirements that controls growth for the next decade.