Wendy’s Clarifies ‘Misconstrued’ Dynamic Pricing Plans

Maplewood, Minnesota. Closeup of a Wendy's. fast food chain. Exterior of building with logo. . (Photo by: Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Wendy’s offered further clarification this week on its pricing strategy amid ongoing customer concerns about the potential for dynamic pricing.

Wendy’s fans grew worried after a February earnings call sparked reports that the fast-food chain was considering the use of new digital menu boards that would allow menu item prices to change based on the time of day. Though media coverage of the call alleged that the new digital tools would amount to surge pricing, Wendy’s later released a statement saying the company didn’t plan to implement surge pricing specifically but might instead experiment with dynamic pricing by offering items at lower costs during less hectic times of the day.

Two months later, the company’s Thursday, May 2, earnings call covering the first quarter of 2024 further clarified Wendy’s pricing strategy moving forward.

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Gunther Plosch, Wendy’s chief financial officer, said on the call that the company plans to “stay careful on pricing” and added, “I don’t think we’re going to get too greedy,” according to Quartz.

Plosch, who described the initial reaction to Wendy's potential pricing change as being "misconstrued in some media reports as an intent to raise prices when demand is highest at our restaurants," also said Wendy’s enlisted a pricing expert to ensure the company makes “the right pricing decisions” as it experiments with its new digital menu boards, the magazine reported.

The initial February reports about Wendy’s potential pricing strategy change drew comparisons to Uber, which does implement surge pricing. In Uber’s case, the price of a ride can increase during times when demand for Uber drivers is high. Uber explains on its website that weather, special events and heavy traffic can all contribute to surge pricing.

In contrast, Wendy’s said in its February 27 blog post that new digital menu boards could instead provide a way for the company to offer items at lower prices when there is less customer demand.

“Digital menuboards could allow us to change the menu offerings at different times of day and offer discounts and value offers to our customers more easily, particularly in the slower times of day,” the company wrote at the time.

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