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The Marriage of Ramen and Burgers

One of the great things about working in Japan is the incessant drum beat of new products in the foodservice market, or any consumer product category.  They come at a rate that Americans would find dizzying.

  They’re conceived, tested, introduced, and pulled week after week, season after season.

Another great thing about working in Japan is ramen shops.  The huge umami-rich dishes that these shops serve have almost nothing in common with the “ramen noodle” cups that most Americans know about (although there are those as well, found in the convenience stores that dominate the market).

So, it was kind of a head slapping moment when I came across this note about Lotteria’s Ramen Burger. Lotteria is Japan’s third largest hamburger chain.

If you exclude convenience stores and grocery stores, the Japanese are far more likely to eat their restaurant food on premises than any other country we track except in Italy and Spain.  That means that even hamburgers are more likely to be eaten in the restaurant than taken out.  Ramen from non-retail locations is almost always eaten on-premises.

Will this lead to consumers walking around Tokyo munching on ramen burgers?  It’s unlikely but it’s a great example of selling people what they like in a new package.  Kind of like Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco.

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About Bob O'Brien

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Bob O’Brien is global senior vice president for market researcher The NPD Group, foodservice sector. He joined NPD’s foodservice division in 1987. He has been responsible for driving foodservice analysis outside the United States, leading the launch of CREST® Japan, China, Australia and the new CREST® Mexico pilot project. Bob speaks frequently to industry and management groups. He can be reached at the NPD Group.

Mr. O'Brien's column on foodservice is syndicated to Blue MauMau by permission of The NPD Group.

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