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Is there a layer missing in a Big Mac? No, not another layer of cheese or salad. A layer of authenticity or customisation that helps differentiate the burger product, adding more value for the impatient fast-food customer?

The competitive battle in the fast-food burger market is heating up - and serves up a great example of how different strategies are proving winners and losers.

This article in Marketing Magazine explores how UK consumer tastes for burgers are changing. We're less keen on the mass-market appeal of a McDonald's or Burger King. Instead we're increasingly turning to niche, premium burger products and it is these that are enjoying an increase in market share.

The article quotes research estimating that the UK burger market was worth £2.94bn in 2013 (Source: Mintel) growing to £3.04bn in 2014. In 2015 it the market size (measured by burger sales revenue) is expected to reach £3.08bn and nearly £3.3bn by 2019.

Why is the UK market leader - McDonald's - struggling? One analyst in the article suggests the answer lies in the product element of the marketing mix:

"McDonald’s has always been about the experience, not the product. Now the industry has shifted to be very much about the product and at the same time offer an experience very distinctive from that of McDonald’s."

The burger businesses that appear to be performing best are differentiating their product. For example, Five Guys allow customisation of the burger.

The Big Mac is synonymous with mass market commodity production. A Big Mac is a Big Mac just about wherever you buy it around the world. Is it now time for McDonald's to take the knife to the concept of the Big Mac and offer something more niche, less mass?

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