It’s really hard to compete with Mickey D’s.
The fast food chain has been around for generations. It sells more hamburgers a year than Domino’s or Dunkin’ Donuts. It sells more than 130 million apple pies a year.
Unlike Starbucks and other nationwide brands, McDonald’s has no big name store locations and no chain of franchises all around the globe.
It’s the only large fast food chain that wants to stay in the burger business.
“Our menu is very Darwinian,” said Josh Ackil, the McDonald’s menu architect. “We are limited down to our core.”
The menu has stayed basically the same since the original Golden Arches opened in 1940. McDonald’s now serves everything from gourmet milkshakes to cheese and pickle sandwiches. It’s basically the same products you eat at fast food restaurants around the world.
The menu is so tested and consistent that no two people have ever seen it the same.
One of the top menu engineers said he eats at McDonald’s about twice a week. He waits for the McRib, the fruit and cheese sandwich, and the french fries just like a regular customer.
The menu engineer said, “People come in here and sometimes they order the same burger we serve so it’s not hard to place. I just want the same thing.”
Even if the system offers similar products, it has different taste. Most people like the Big Mac because it tastes “100 percent like itself.”
But that burger only tastes like “kind of like it’s supposed to” because every McDonald’s serves their own version.
Over 1,000 McDonald’s make up the brain trust behind the menu. The engineers have a team of scientists, who do taste tests on actual food to come up with new menu items. It’s then up to the McDonald’s developers to tweak the new items on the menu before they get to the customers.
“We’ve done a whole lot of testing and the system works very well,” said the McDonald’s menu engineer. “We’re constantly trying to deliver better and better menu.”
McDonald’s is changing their menu this month in China. The Golden Arches plans to add four new items.
Along with a new sports burger, there will be a variety of beverages.
“There are only so many calories, so what we want to do is offer healthier versions of our core products,” the menu engineer said.
McDonald’s plans to use the after sales market data to determine what its customers want. The Golden Arches’ market research also shows the effects of giving people another layer of product choices.
“A lot of our market research shows that a limited menu serves the number of burgers and fries is the same or greater than our regular fare,” the McDonald’s market research showed.