For a long time, the end-all, be-all in the fast-food industry was a race to the bottom on value and speed. If menu items got too pricey, customers stopped showing up. Same for speed — there’s a reason it’s called fast food.
And, no one embodied the fast-food identity more than McDonald’s. The chain in many ways invented the idea of speedy, assembly-line meals. One of the chain’s most well-known creations remains the Dollar Menu, which was killed in 2014.
However, after years of struggling, McDonald’s is making a comeback by de-emphasizing these central fast-food tenets in favor of investing in quality, redesigns, and technology.
“One of the things that we have said to our franchisees in the US is we don’t have to win on value, but we can’t lose on value,” McDonald’s US president Chris Kempczinski said in a call with investors on Tuesday.
Value is still crucial. Kempczinski said that after the Dollar Menu was retired, McDonald’s failed to be as competitive as it needed to be on prices. It has since righted itself with the McPick 2 and beverage deals, and it plans to roll out a new value menu with items priced at $1, $2, and $3 in early 2018.
Still, the fact that the company’s game plan isn’t to win, but merely not to lose, is pretty remarkable. McDonald’s is no longer the home of the Dollar Menu — it’s home of the $1, $2, and $3 menu.
It’s weird how adjusting to the consumer climate and to the changing landscape can do wonders for a business isn’t it.