How McDonald’s is reinventing its menu to meet changing tastes

Don Thompson just took the stage in Chicago to address the global McDonald’s Convention. He delivered his opening remarks in a measured tone, acknowledging that his company was facing “distinct challenges today.” But what would the future hold?

First, to go back to the menu. It’s critical to what McDonald’s is trying to accomplish: to offer quality food at a good value. And it is the first thing you notice when entering one of the company’s restaurants: If you look through the eyes of a shareholder, there is a constant reminder of the changing menu.

Today the world knows about McMuffins, the little breakfast sandwiches, but McDonald’s is constantly challenging itself to offer something new — and often different from the competition.

In the coming years, says Mr. Thompson, we will also be sharing our vision of the menu — our menu is an ever evolving landscape and will look very different from the menu we put out today. As more customers walk into our restaurants, we will see new variations on existing McDonald’s favourites as well as some new dishes.

So in addition to the menu, there is something more important than great food: It’s the people.

Trust me, we know: McDonald’s is a global company. We reach people in 100 countries around the world. Sometimes we’ll deliver something without checking with the operations and planning teams first. You never know how much a small change in food can impact how a customer tastes our food.

This is a critical point. Every menu change leads to a ripple effect in the franchise. We will learn from our customers and our partners. We must never allow a small tweak to our menu to be the source of customer discontent. In today’s digital world, we will act as shareholders’ managers of our brands.

A last thought. Our global footprint, combined with the very unique needs and preferences of each partner, means that each country will have to identify their own footprint for our restaurants and the products we offer. We will work closely with our partners to optimize business needs, but make sure that each market has an equally important role to play in elevating the brand and our overall experience for our customers.

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