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May 14th, 2019

McDonald’s recognizes its customers don’t want or need gourmet.

You don’t need a line of gourmet burgers to increase quality.

McDonald’s is changing things up. And no, I don’t mean that the Arch Deluxe is coming back—in fact, they’re getting rid of its idea entirely.

The fast-food chain took a step back to listen to what their customers are saying in an effort to appease both them and the franchise community. The result: McDonald’s decided to scratch their entire line of Signature Crafted Recipes, which launched just two years ago. The food line featured “artisanal” ingredients that, ultimately, no one really asked for.

“Our customers have said they love our fresh beef,” the company said in a brief statement released earlier this month. “Based on [consumer] feedback, we’ll move away from the Signature Crafted Recipes line on our national menu.” In other words, McDonald’s is getting back to basics and offering their classic products with updated ingredients. The company also announced that they are doing away with several of their late-night offerings.

Honestly, we applaud the McDonald’s leadership team. They tried something new, it didn’t work well, so they’re evolving again. More brands could benefit from being this humble and adapting to change, instead of fighting it.

Since early 2015, when Steve Easterbrook became the CEO, they’ve made several large steps to improve their menu. Let’s not forget in that time McDonald’s also introduced all-day breakfast, added table service, and rolled out fresh-never-frozen beef patties. But with the Signature Craft Recipe line underperforming, they’re forced to evaluate: if the customizable menu and artisanal ingredients were not what the customer wants, then why force the franchise community to take on those additional items?

Beyond the menu, the stores have been modernized with self-ordering kiosks in many locations, eliminating the need for human interaction, and lounge environments with complimentary WIFI.

The guest experience is changing in the food industry. Technology is becoming more of an ingredient in food and operations. That’s being proven with McDonald’s latest acquisition of the company Dynamic Yield, a leader in personalization and decision logic technology. McDonald’s will further cement itself as an industry leader by providing an even more personalized customer experience—varying their outdoor digital drive-thru menu displays to show food based on the time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic, and trending menu items. The decision technology will also be able to instantly suggest and display additional items to a customer based on their order selections.

McDonald’s is truly defining the difference between offering a personalized experience versus a customizable experience. Instead of trying to be a gourmet brand, they can now focus on consistently delivering fresh options throughout the entire customer journey in an authentic way.

That’s what we all love in advertising, right? An authentic approach.

 

About the Author
Jeff Philbin is the Restaurant & Hospitality Consultant for PPK, an independent advertising agency based in Tampa, FL that helps leading and high-growth brands accelerate the way they capture and grow their market share. He has spent nearly 15 years in the industry and has been featured in national publications and television.