Fast-food chains want to find that elusive new menu item that gets the public talking, becomes a social media sensation and ultimately sells out making its eventual return an even bigger event.
That’s why Restaurants Brands International’s (QSR) – Get Restaurant Brands International Inc. Report Burger King tries so many wacky Whoppers, alongside more traditional variations on the classic sandwich.
Yum! Brands (YUM) – Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report Taco Bell has been the leader in this space regularly adding menu items that push boundaries. It may not seem all that novel to use a Doritos-based taco shell, but at the time it was and the Doritos Locos Taco become a huge hit that led to countless spin-offs. It also led to snack chip mash-ups becoming a thing with Burger King offering Mac N’ Cheetos, a deep-fried take on macaroni and cheese, and Taco Bell itself recently testing two products using variants of the Cheez-It.
Starbucks (SBUX) – Get Starbucks Corporation Report also spent a period of time after its Unicorn Frappuccino became a surprise hit chasing the wacky is better strategy. That ultimately seemed to make its new drinks less special and the chain never captured the viral success of its multi-colored frozen beverage, so it actually toned down its new release schedule.
McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report, however, has generally been more conservative when it comes to its menu. The chain, which was built on doing a limited menu really well has generally stuck to the model. Sure, it has some weird outliers like the McRib, but generally, McDonald’s limited-time offers stick to being variants on a hamburger with perhaps some new toppings.
Now, the chain has shaken up its dessert menu in one part of the world with a product that has the potential to be a global smash.
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McDonald’s Adds a New Pie, McFlurry
Over the years McDonald’s has kept its dessert menu very focused. It offers its core Apple Pie, ice cream cones, shakes, very basic sundaes, and of course, the McFlurry. The chain has experimented with different pie flavors on rare occasions, and it offers the seasonal Shamrock Shake around St. Patrick’s Day, but it generally keeps its dessert experimentation to mixing up its McFlurry flavors.
Now, McDonald’s Australia has not only done that, it has a new flavor of pie, both of which could be contenders to be added to the menu anywhere in the world.
“McDonald’s Australia welcomes the new Creme Brulee Pie and Creme Brulee McFlurry for a limited time,” Brand Eating reported. “The Creme Brulee Pie features a blend of caramel and vanilla custard inside of a turnover-style, fried pastry crust. McDonald’s Australia’s Creme Brulee McFlurry takes pieces of Creme Brulee Pie and mixes it into vanilla soft serve along with caramel sauce.”
A traditional creme brulee features a layer of crystallized sugar (usually finished with a mini blowtorch) on top of a sweet custard.
Why McDonald’s Dessert Matters
Once McDonald’s (or any chain for that matter) gets a customer through its doors, it wants to get them to spend the most money possible. Realistically most customers won’t order two sandwiches or multiple orders of french fries. That means that meal add-ons like shakes, pies, and McFlurries can increase check size and likely the fast-food giant’s margins.
Ice cream, at least the soft-serve version of it, has a very low cost. Even adding in some mix-ins likely leaves McDonald’s capturing a higher margin than on a hamburger. Adding a flavor like creme brulee, which is both exotic and familiar, gives the chain’s customers an excuse to be a little indulgent, spend some more money, and try something new.
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