Customer Traffic Will Be Unaffected By Burger King's Recent Acquisition of Tim Hortons

LOS ANGELES , September 24, 2014 () – If you read anything about customers being upset about Burger King’s recently announced acquisition of Tim Hortons, here’s a tip:

Ignore it.

Customers don’t care about Burger King buying Tim Hortons. Oh sure, they may say they care—calling the burger chain “a tax cheat” or worse. But honestly, none of them are losing sleep about the controversy surrounding the taxes and could care less about Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway contributing $3 billion in financing toward the deal.

News like this never has an impact on whether a customer will go to a restaurant. Now, if the merger leads to higher menu prices, new food items and different marketing, that will have an impact (positive or negative). But the news itself? No.

Now you might think: How can I say this? How can I be so blasé about any negative customer reaction about the merger? Haven’t I seen all the angry posts on Burger King’s Facebook page? Posts like:

If you become a tax cheat you can count my family of seven as former customers.

If BURGER KING moves to Canada then US will boycott its restaurants.

NEVER step foot in another Burger King again.

Am I doubting the validity of these comments? No. Am I questioning the “likes” that these comments got on Facebook? No. But fast food customers are like all other customers: What they say and what they do are two different things. It’s easy to say “Ban the Whopper from U.S. shores!!!” if it’s the trendy thing to do, and even easier to hit the like button. But going through with the action? A different story. Talk is cheap, and this is no exception.

I’ll finish my point with this story:

I recently had lunch with a group of friends and the topic conversation was Scotland’s upcoming vote as to whether to secede from the United Kingdom. Each of my friends had an opinion: Some were for, some were against. A couple of these friends even posted about it on Facebook, with their posts getting several likes. One friend even made the Scottish flag his cover photo.

Here’s the funny thing: I’ve known all of these friends for years, but this was the first time I’ve ever heard any of them talk about Scotland. None of them had ever been to Scotland. None of them were planning to go to Scotland. None of their lives were going to be affected no matter what Scotland did.

But why were they talking about Scotland and writing about Scotland and posting photos of Scotland? Because everybody else was.

A couple of these friends also had some harsh things to say about Burger King after the Tim Hortons deal when it first came out.

But after a week or so, they moved on to Scotland.

While eating lunch with their friends at Burger King.

Nevin Barich is the Food and Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence. Email him here or follow him on Twitter here.

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