Why Did the Consumer Cross the Road to McD’s?
By George Anderson
McDonald’s customers do not live by burgers and fries alone.
That was the central theme of a speech given by Ralph Alvarez, president of McDonald’s North America, at the annual National Retail Federation convention.
Today’s consumers, said Mr. Alvarez, are not coming to McDonald’s just for its “tried-and-true core products.” They “want more choices in a more contemporary environment.”
Among the choices that they will have at McDonald’s in the near future will be more “freshly prepared foods,” including a new spicy chicken sandwich, an Asian salad and gourmet coffee. Some McDonald’s restaurants today, reports Forbes.com, are giving customers the option of adding Campbell’s Soup to a meal.
While it’s generally accepted that McDonald’s has been successful with its new expanded menu approach, some are questioning whether the chain is taking its eye off the business that made the company, namely burgers.
Brian Gorman, writing on the Motley Fool web site, concludes: “Menu expansion so far has clearly been good to McDonald’s — it has attracted a new set of health-conscious and premium-minded consumers to its restaurants. It’s notable, though, that the company has largely ignored its burger area when it comes to new offerings. That complacency could lead to customer alienation over the long run. After all, plenty of companies, from CKE Restaurants to Red Robin GourmetBurgers, are working hard to reach burger aficionados. If McDonald’s neglects its core products for too long, it may find that its next big project is winning burger fans back.”
According to the Forbes piece, McDonald’s is planning “a new hip-hop ad campaign, aimed at making the 35-year-old Big Mac cool to young urbanites.”
The same article says McDonald’s performance is benefiting at the restaurant level from a number of other initiatives, including: its Arch Card; restaurant remodels; employee education and quality control programs (involving mystery shoppers); bilingual training and e-learning.
Moderator’s Comment: Is McDonald’s straying too far afield from its burger and fries roots? What opportunities, menu or otherwise, do you see for McDonald’s
to grow its bottom line results? –
George Anderson – Moderator