Have It Your Way in Fast Food

March 14, 2012: The New “Have It Your Way”

Remember back in the day when Burger King was more competitive with McDonald’s, and they shook up the industry with their “have it your way” marketing campaign? As mundane as that sounds today, back in the early 1970s the Burger King jingle, “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. Special orders don’t upset us. All we ask is that you let us serve it your way!” was considered revolutionary.

It may have been fun while it lasted, but the concept of letting quick-service food customers customize their orders quickly gave way to value menus and cutthroat competition. Then Chipotle reinvented the have-it-your-way concept, essentially creating the fast-casual niche at the same time.

This “give the customers what they want” idea is now reverberating throughout the quick-service food industry. A few days ago an article in The Los Angeles Times highlighted several different restaurant chains offering customers the chance to assemble their own food. Yogurtland lets customers create their own frozen treats (including flavors and toppings); some Asian barbecues let customers create their own bowls of food.

But the newest entrant into the “assembly-line” food business is sushi restaurants. Jen Duarte, co-founder of SushiFreak, told the The Times, “You can already customize your computer, your car, your coffee — why not your sushi?”

The make-it-yourself concept resonates with many consumers today, giving them the ability to customize their diets and control what they eat. It also makes it easier to bring the family, since everyone can personalize their own meal.

This fast-growing concept reinforces the “everything old is new again” meme. Just as Burger King realized 40 or so years ago, it’s about letting the customer decide. As Yuen Yung, the founder of How Do You Roll?, another DIY sushi restaurant chain, says, “More and more people want to have it their way.”