What is in this article?:
- Examining the latest menu tests at McDonald's, Burger King
- Platforms in place at Wendy's, Taco Bell
McDonald's is testing new fries and Burger King is offering burgers at breakfast. An analyst says the moves are unlikely to steal momentum from Wendy’s and Taco Bell.
Faced with flat same-store sales and seemingly less momentum than some of their quick-service rivals, McDonald’s and Burger King are reportedly testing new menu strategies to shake things up.
Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s will begin testing seasoned French fries called Shakin’ Flavor Fries in Northern California and St. Louis in three varieties: Garlic Parmesan, Zesty Ranch and Spicy Buffalo. On Thursday, the 35,000-unit chain reported a 1.2-percent global increase in same-store sales for April, though comparable sales in its more than 14,000 locations in the United States were flat.
Another report found that Miami-based Burger King is offering its signature burgers like the Whopper and the Original Chicken Sandwich, along with French fries and apple pie, during breakfast hours. Approximately 5,000 of Burger King’s more than 7,400 restaurants in the United States and Canada — which reported essentially flat same-store sales for the first quarter — reportedly will participate in the “burgers at breakfast” test.
John Gordon, principal of San Diego-based Pacific Management Consulting Group, graded the tests from McDonald’s and Burger King as smart possible extensions to core parts of their menus, but he did not see in them new ways to significantly drive sales or supercharge menu innovation.
“Really, what we’ve just seen from McDonald’s and Burger King are good actions around the middle, but they’re not dramatic platforms,” Gordon said. “If McDonald’s were able to get breakfast to work 24-7 like Jack in the Box, that could be big. Burger King is doing better, no question, and I was excited to see them do Satisfries.”
At the moment, he added, Wendy’s and Taco Bell “have better overall consumer platforms,” which support optimism emanating from leaders of those brands.
While French fries are a side item, McDonald’s often touts its sales mix of fries and its other core menu items like Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets. Meanwhile, innovation around French fries has resulted in incremental success for its competitors. Last year, Burger King credited the launch of lower-calorie Satisfries with driving sales of the side item as well as combo meals, which Wendy’s similarly reported when it revamped its fries to a skin-on variety with sea salt.
Seasoned French fries and other fried items have proved successful for Checkers and Rallys as well, as the popular “Famous Fry” batter at those drive-in chains gave rise to the “Fry Love” platform that extends the flavor to several limited-time offers like potato skins and mozzarella sticks.