Will Carl’s Jr succeed in Australia?

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th February 2016

US burger chain Carl’s Jr opened its first restaurant in Australia last week and it appears to have been a successful one with some customers lining up for days just to get one of the first burgers (admittedly they were encouraged by the opportunity to win a year’s supply of free food).


Putting the booming first day aside the question still remains, will Carl’s Jr be successful in Australia?


Let’s look at a few factors:


Advertising and differing cultures


Carl’s Jr is well known in the US for its controversial and salacious advertising which it has drawn criticism for. Previous US advertisements have typically involved celebrities or models eating its burgers in bikinis and other revealing clothing. Unsurprisingly Carl Jr’s target audience is young males.


When it comes to Australia will these advertisements work? Although Australians are already of course subjected to sexualised advertising on a regular basis, it is something that local consumers can sometimes be sensitive to. The third most complained about advertisement in Australian in 2015 for example received 85 complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau because of its sexual content (the television advertisement by Fantastic Snacks Australia showed a wife licking chip flavouring off her husband’s lips). As the Advertising Standards Bureau’s CEO Fiona Jolly said looking back on the most complained about advertisements for the year, Australians are particularly concerned about seeing behaviour they “view as inappropriate”.


Australians may be used to sexualised advertising but do not have the same general attitudes as middle Americans who are more than used to this type of advertising from Carl’s Jr.


Changing tastes


Although every Australian is not about to give in all their junk food, there is no denying Australians have a continually growing interest in healthier food options.


Carl’s Jr is entering Australia at a time when Australians are increasingly concerned about their diets and fast food outlets like McDonald’s no longer rules like it once did.


Even though Carl’s Jr has healthier low-fat and low-carb options, it will have to compete against well-established Australian chains like Grill’d which already has a healthy and premium perception amongst Australian consumers. It does not have the cheap fast-food image which other US chains often develop in Australia.


Launched in a regional town


Carl’s Jr decided to open in Australia in a regional town (Bateau Bay on the NSW Central Coast, which has a population of approximately 11, 000 only).


This could play to its advantage as Carl’s Jr may be able to make the most of areas not already saturated with food choices.