Elevation Burger: Taking the Traditional Burger to a new Level Case Study taken from: Principles of Marketing 17th (ed) Global Edition by Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong, pp.610-611 We’ve all heard the common criticisms of fast food: it is unhealthy; it has high calorie content but poor nutritional value; it is high on salt, spices, and preservatives; and it contains animal fat. Fast-food companies have been trying hard to change their junky image as consumers question how “good” their food is in terms of its sourcing. They want to make the right choices, and this involves consuming products that are not only good for them but also good for society, animals, and the environment. They want food that satisfies their appetites as well as their consciences. This would seem quite the challenge for the fast-food industry. But one company is catering specifically to the conscientious consumer. Elevation Burger is a burger chain from the United States that has embraced the idea of responsible and sustainable eating for the fast-food category. Outside the United States, Elevation Burger has discovered a very lucrative market in the Middle East. Rich Arab consumers who can easily afford to spend more on expensive products are often quick to adopt popular global trends, and they are becoming more aware of sustainable and healthy eating practices. Elevation Burger’s value is its organic, fresh, flavorful burgers made from high-quality additive-free ingredients. The company is careful in selecting the people who will run the restaurants; similarly, while choosing its partners, Elevation Burger looks for people who share similar values and are concerned about issues like health, conscientious eating, and the environment. The elevated guest experience begins inside the restaurants, which are built and equipped using environmentally sustainable and non-hazardous construction materials and operating practices. The experience moves beyond the more apparent look-and-feel factors to the organic, grass- fed, free-range, and trans-fat- less ingredients and sources. Elevation Burger believes that all of these aspects have a real meaning that impact consumers, the planet, and the way food tastes. Elevation Burger’s origins go back to 2002, when its founder, Han Hess, moved from California to Washington and could not find a burger that he truly enjoyed. He decided to make his own, and set out to create a healthier burger that was not only better in taste than the industrial-raised, grain-fed beef burgers he saw everywhere but also some- thing that he could feel good about feeding his children. After careful planning and R&D, Hans and his wife April opened the first Elevation Burger in 2005. After three years of operations, with a mission to spread organic and sustainable food, Elevation Burger began franchising in 2008. Introducing sustainable and socially responsible eating to the unlikely burger category proved to be remarkably well-timed, for it coincided with the consumer demand across the globe for sustainable, ethical, and socially responsible products. In 2015, the global market for organic products was stronger than ever, having increased five-fold since 1999. For most consumers, sourcing is one of the main concerns; they want to know where their food comes from. Such increasing demands from consumers has even encouraged fast-food giants like McDonald’s and KFC to make changes in their supply-chain and sourcing practices. Elevation Burger has kept up with such demands, recognizing and reinforcing the high standards and ethical values that are important to its customers. Elevation Burger also recycles its waste, including the olive oil used to cook fries. Through its various communications, such as on the company website, it compliments its customers’ high standards of eating and commits itself to following those high standards and using superior ingredients. Burger lovers are assured that the meat used for the burgers comes from 100-percent grass-fed cattle and that it has lower calories and higher levels of healthy Omega 3s. It says that its beef tastes much better than the beef from conventionally raised cattle, which are often given chemicals for growth and are not solely fed grass. Instead, Elevation Burger uses free-range cattle that belong to their partners’ farms, which they believe is the only humane way to source beef. On these farms, the cattle graze on organic, chemical-free pastures. These pastures are also good for the environment as they absorb 850 pounds of CO2 every year. The conventional beef industry has been increasingly criticized due to the amount of chemicals and antibiotics used to bring the cows to slaughter-weight. Such practices reduce the nutritive value of the meat, traumatize the animals, escalate contamination risks, and expose consumers to many unwanted chemicals. Organically raised beef, on the other hand, is claimed to be healthier as the cows are never given antibiotics and artificial hormones. Since opening its first franchise in 2008, the company has grown considerably, and it now has more than 60 locations in the United States, the Middle East, and Mexico. The international side of the business is thriving, particularly due to the growth of franchises in the Middle East; the company has opened than 23 outlets in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In September 2016, the company signed an agreement to open 20 restaurants in Egypt. Affluent consumers in the Middle East are not very price-sensitive and are happy to pay a higher price for something that they perceive to be different from the various burger options available. Young Middle Eastern consumers in particular are much more aware of global trends like organic food and sustainable consumption, and they want to identify with these issues. The organic eating concept is quite in vogue for these consumers and this has spurred the launch of many an organic restaurant, especially in the United Arab Emirates. Elevation Burger’s biggest regional outlet is on Jumeirah Beach Road, one of the prime coastal neighbourhoods of Dubai, which is home to some of the highest revenue-earning outlets of international franchises and a competitive place with regard to its entertainment, retail, and hospitality sectors. The Elevation Burger outlet in Dubai maintains the same principle of using mostly renewable and non-polluting materials, and its venue has breath-taking views of the sea and some of the iconic Dubai sites, making it a complete family destination. Elevation Burger empowers its patrons to make smarter burger choices and personalize them with a wide range of toppings, from gluten-free and paleo-friendly to veggie burgers and multiple beef patties. In a market where eating out signifies prime socializing time, a fast-food restaurant with a sustainable and ethical proposition that allows the consumer to align their cultural and traditional values with modern and trendy choices definitely has a unique appeal. The success of Elevation Burger demonstrates that consumers around the world want brands that are socially responsible and whose philosophy is reflected in its products and practices. The company’s strong ethical proposition has helped it win loyal customers in the markets it has served, and with its 100 percent organic burger concept and the growing consumer interest in health and sustainability, Elevation Burger has developed a meaningful differentiation that will help it to achieve even higher levels of success. Question 1: There are five types of marketing management philosophies. Which philosophy best explain the case. Please justify your answer (40 marks). Question 2: From the case, identify two changing trends (specifically the macro-environment) that support and promote the consumption of Elevation Burger (30 marks). Question 3: There are four values that consumers (customers) seek. Which of these customer values should Elevation Burger prioritize to deliver maximum satisfaction to the target market? Justify your answer based on case evidence (30 marks).

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