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Carl’s Jr. Tries Salads as Sales Get Tossed

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYWQ5sX0-5Q[Dec. 21: The Kim Kardashian TV commercial (left) has been added.]
[Dec. 16 Update:
As expected, salads were introduced today. Go here to see Kim Kardashian's video invitation to a Jan. 13 "interactive lunch" on Facebook. A TV spot (left) breaks next week.]

Carl’s Jr. next week launches a three-item line of premium entrée salads as part of a new strategy to reach out to customers who traditionally have not been a priority, i.e. anyone not a male between the ages of 16 and 24. The  varieties include Cranberry Apple Walnut Grilled Chicken, Southwest Grilled Chicken and Original Grilled Chicken.

That “young hungry guys” core audience still will be appeased by use of reality-TV starlet Kim Kardashian, who’ll ask in TV spots, “Who says salads can’t be hot?” But in a Webcast with analysts today, CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder stressed that Kardashian also appeals to women, who he admitted have been skipping Six Dollar Burgers and Thickburgers and eating elsewhere.

Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad

Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad

The quick-service restaurant market is a zero-sum game, Puzder said. If the company is going to avoid repeating Carl Jr.’s 5.2% decline in same-store sales and Hardee’s 1.8% drop for its fiscal third quarter ended Nov. 2, 2009, CKE is going to have to steal market share, he said. “There’s no booming economy you can hook onto and watch your sales rise,” he said. For the full fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2010, CKE is projecting a blended same-store-sales decline of 3.5% to 4%.

Puzder didn’t outline short-term tactical plans for Hardee’s, but reaffirmed the company’s commitment to “boycotting the burger pricing wars.” Although Carl’s Jr. lowered the price on its Six Dollar Cheeseburger, neither brand has gone the deep-discount, dollar-menu route and won’t. Puzder repeated his mantra that he isn’t interested in catering to bottom-price feeders.

Edgy advertising works, keeping TV viewers from skipping its commercials with their DVRs, and will continue, Puzder said. Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s need to get noticed so they can deliver their message that their burgers are better in quality and at the same or lower prices than competitors, he said.

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