Business

Mos to woo consumers with higher prices

by Taiga Uranaka

Hamburger chain Mos Food Services Inc. announced Wednesday it will start selling high-price hamburgers in August, signaling a marketing shift in the country’s fast-food industry.

The Japanese Burger Takumi (masterful taste) will be priced at 580 yen, double what regular burgers currently cost at Mos outlets. The chain will also offer a version with cheese for 640 yen.

“As consumer spending is slow to recover amid the prolonged slump, consumers are no longer baited by cheap prices,” said Kazuhiko Tada, the company’s chief operating officer.

The new hamburger will be made with a patty 1.8 times larger than those on regular Mos burgers. The prime ingredient will be Australian shoulder beef, a prized cut usually used for steaks and other expensive dishes.

Onions sauteed in premium soy sauce will top the patty. Handmade buns with egg coating to give them a crispy surface will also be used, the officials said.

The burger will take about 10 minutes to cook, and only 10 orders for the Takumi will be accepted per day at each outlet. The company will start serving the hamburgers at 122 outlets Aug. 13 and plans to expand to 300 stores around October.

Even before the announcement, Mos has built a reputation for high prices compared to other fast-food chains. The company’s move underscores the industry’s shift from price competition to quality-oriented marketing.

In April, McDonald’s Co. (Japan), the nation’s largest burger chain, introduced the 270 yen Premium Mac. In July, it raised the price of regular hamburgers from 58 yen to 80 yen, ending a yearlong discount that had become a symbol of the deflationary trend.

Smaller rival Lotteria Co. began marketing quality lines in the spring, starting with the New Ebi Burger.

“This year saw a shift in business strategies in the restaurant industry,” said Atsushi Sakurada, chief executive of Mos Food. “We saw other chains switch to quality-oriented campaigns after low-price policies hit walls.”

Yet, it is questionable whether high-end burgers will counter deflation. McDonald’s same-store sales in June dropped 8.4 percent from the previous year, extending its negative growth streak to 21 months.

Coronavirus banner