Fancy McDonald's wasn't resonating with consumers. Not every idea is a winner, and it's better to cut losses now.
— Erika Adams
Not every innovative idea is going to be a hit, even at McDonald’s. The fast food chain will roll back its premium Signature Crafted Recipes offerings on the national menu, after going through years of iteration on the line. Instead, the company will be introducing more beefed-up versions of a core menu offering, the Quarter Pounder.
“Our customers have said they love our fresh beef. With our new Quarter Pounder Deluxe and Quarter Pounder Bacon, we’ve introduced even more ways to enjoy the classic burger toppings they know and love, now on the fresh beef Quarter Pound patty,” the company said in a statement. “Based on their feedback, we’ll move away from the Signature Crafted Recipes line on our national menu.”
The Signature Crafted Recipes line was positioned most recently as a premium burger line that placed an emphasis on higher-quality ingredients, but the special attention dragged on order completion times at the store level.
“Some of the complexity that we’ve added into the business has now created a little bit slower drive-thru times,” McDonald’s chief financial officer Kevin Ozan told investors at J.P. Morgan’s Management Access Forum in Las Vegas in March. “One of the things you’ll see in 2019 is a big focus on what we call just running better restaurants, just the basics of running good restaurants.”
Simplifying the menu is a move that franchisees have been asking for as well. The National Owner’s Association, an independent group of McDonald’s franchisees, hosted a forum in February in which operators noted that McDonald’s menu is far more crowded than national competitors and the vast majority of sales come from a small percentage of the current menu.
Innovation Isn’t Always What People Want
McDonald’s grabbed national attention last month when it made the chain’s first tech acquisition in history, positioning itself as a brand that has its eye on developing its stores to last in a technology-focused future. But that won’t matter if its food doesn’t resonate with what customers expect of McDonald’s.
While the Signature Crafted line might have been an attempt to stand out as Shake Shack and other emerging burger competitors tout better-for-you options, the chain decided to return to the basics in this instance, as Ozan alluded to in March. The Quarter Pounders have a strong brand identity with McDonald’s, and are an easier sell than continuing to develop a more expensive, separate line.