McDonald’s doubles down on chicken, drive-thru and delivery

 McDonald’s doubles down on chicken, drive-thru and delivery

The company, which faces growing competition, particularly in breakfast, outlined a new strategy on Monday. It includes capitalizing on consumer trends that strengthened during the pandemic — like eating comfort food. For McDonald’s (MCD), that means focusing on its most popular menu items and selling more chicken.

“Demand for the familiar in these uncertain times is more important than ever,” McDonald’s said in its investor update, adding that it expects core menu items like its Big Mac and Quarter Pounder burgers, Chicken McNuggets and french fries to contribute to its growth moving forward.

To further promote sales of these items, McDonald’s is rolling out improvements, like new, toasty buns and an “enhanced grilling approach” for hamburgers, as well as more chicken flavors and menu items.

It also plans to launch a new crispy chicken sandwich in the United States early next year. America’s appetite for chicken sandwiches has helped make Chick-fil-A a success, and contributed to rising sales at Popeyes. McDonald’s already serves a chicken sandwich, the McChicken, and often tests out new types of chicken sandwiches.

New packaging and easier ordering

That’s not all. McDonald’s is introducing new packaging with a “modern, refreshing feel.”

And it’s taking cues from another pandemic-induced trend — eating at home instead of at restaurants.

Digital delivery, drive-thru and pickup orders have been essential for restaurants during the pandemic, and many chains, including Burger King, Popeyes and Taco Bell are exploring new store formats and investing in drive-thru improvements. McDonald’s is no exception.
Burger King wants you to order from McDonald's

The burger chain is planning to make it easier for customers to eat at home by letting more people order delivery through the McDonald’s app and improving the speed and accuracy of delivery orders. It will also try out new concepts at its drive-thrus, like automated order taking, and express pickup lanes for people who placed digital orders. And it will test out restaurants with drive-thrus that are only open for delivery and pickup orders.

Plus, it’s launching a new digital hub called “MyMcDonald’s,” which will include a new loyalty program that will be piloted in Phoenix in the coming weeks.

The company has been investing in its technology for some time — it bought Dynamic Yield, an artificial intelligence company, to help it roll out smart menu boards last year. It has also purchased Apprente, another AI company that works on voice-based ordering platforms. Apprente should help automate McDonald’s drive-thru.

McDonald’s suffered early in the pandemic, but its sales have been improving.

In the United States, sales at stores open at least 13 months jumped 4.6% in the three months that ended on September 30 compared to the same period last year. Overall, system-wide sales were flat compared to last year. In 2021, McDonald’s expects system-wide sales to grow by single digits compared to 2019.

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