The McDonald’s empire was built on simplicity and consistency: Your cheeseburger comes out exactly like the one the next guy gets. But thanks in part to lackluster sales, the fast-food giant is increasingly letting customers customize their meals.
On Monday, McDonald’s (MCD) reported a 0.3% drop in sales at restaurants open longer than 13 months around the globe; U.S. same-restaurant sales fell 1.4%. Though the company is still the world’s largest restaurant chain by revenue and worldwide sales, the trend is troubling, executives say, but one that can be reversed. “Looking ahead, we believe that we are taking the right actions to more clearly align with our customers’ needs and build momentum to drive long-term profitable growth,” says CFO Pete Benson.
One way is through customization. While their famous ad described the Big Mac as “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun”--the world’s largest restaurant chain is experimenting with changing that. Last year, the company began testing a “build-your-own-burger” concept in Laguna Niguel, Calif., which lets you pick what you want on your burger using a tablet computer, rather than just having to say something like “no onions” to a cashier. During a speech to investors at the time, Kevin Newell, the chief brand and strategy officer for the U.S., said, “customization represents another important opportunity for our business.” And a few weeks ago, the company announced it will expand the build-your-own-burger concept to more stores, likely in Southern California. Newell told the Associated Press that this concept has been a driver of sales and was helping McDonald’s attract a different clientele and more of a dinner crowd.
The move toward customization is becoming more common in the fast-food industry, analysts say. “It’s one of the biggest trends,” says Andy Brennan, an analyst with IBISWorld. Or as Darren Tristano, the executive vice president of food industry research and consultancy Technomic puts it, “consumers have been looking for greater variety and customization…this is something that many fast-food restaurants have figured out but McDonald’s is just starting.”
The industry, says Brennan, may be taking a page from the likes of Chipotle (CMG) and Five Guys, which offer more customization than other fast-food spots; at Chipotle consumers point to what ingredients they want on their meal and watch as the staff makes it, while at Five Guys you can list everything you want on your burger. Indeed, in terms of system-wide sales, which includes sales for company-owned restaurants and franchised restaurants, both Chipotle and Five Guys grew more than 100% from 2009 to 2013, while McDonald’s grew just 16%, says Brennan. “McDonald's’ [revenue] growth rate pales in comparison,” says Brennan.
Another thing that’s contributing to Chipotle’s success—and something that’s likely to be mimicked by fast food chains—is the addition of high-quality, natural ingredients, says Tristano. “Customers really respond to this,” he says. We’re already seeing some of that as McDonald’s added apple slices to the Happy Meal menu in 2011 and this year is offering consumers the option to get a salad, fruit or vegetable instead of french fries as a side for their value meals. Tristano adds that McDonald's in Canada along with their supplier partner Cargill just produced a YouTube Video that shows the process their supplier uses for making chicken McNuggets. “They are taking a page out of Chipotle’s book where they recently produced a video called the Scarecrow that promoted natural farm to fork process,” he says.
Analysts also say we can expect more healthy options and possibly the addition of more natural foods in the coming years. Tristano says that he expects McDonald's to focus on cage free eggs, sustainable fish and more options for fruits and vegetables.
Florida Georgia Line have released the video for their latest single, ‘This Is How We Roll.’ The duo, made up of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, invited Luke Bryan, who sings with them on the song, to also star in the clip.
In the video, the FGL guys, along with Bryan, throw a party in the trailer of an 18-wheeler. They also take the fun outside, with plenty of girls, drinking, and even a few dirt bikes to cap off the night.
While Hubbard and Kelley enjoy time on their own bikes when they aren’t performing on stage, one of them may have to keep their feet on the ground for a while. They had to cancel a performance at Nashville’s Country Radio Seminar last month, after Hubbard injured his back while riding.
‘This Is How We Roll’ is the fifth single from their platinum-selling freshman album, ‘Here’s to the Good Times.’ The men will wrap up their run as the opening act on Jason Aldean‘s Night Train Tour this week, and will kick off their own Here’s to the Good Times Tour on April 9 in Canada. See a list of their upcoming shows here.
Frankie Ballard‘s coaches at Western Michigan University may have noticed a change in the singer’s commitment during his final two seasons as the team’s starting shortstop and leadoff hitter. The ‘Helluva Life’ hitmaker admits he was distracted, to say the least.
For some college jocks, girls get in the way of athletic pursuits. For others, it’s some of the more devious distractions. For Ballard, it was his guitar. While he’d always played music and sang, the Battle Creek, Mich. native says he didn’t realize music could be a career until halfway through his junior year at the Kalamazoo, Mich. university.
“I would stay after practice and take an extra 300 ground balls,” Ballard says. “And then all of a sudden I was leaving early and heading to the blues jam.”
“My coach wouldn’t let me bring my guitar on the bus,” he adds with a smile, but clearly not joking. “I asked, but he wouldn’t let me.”
According to one Bronco Baseball blog, Ballard hit .296 as a senior in college — not too bad considering his active night gig. ‘Helluva Life’ just became his first Top 5 single. His new ‘Sunshine and Whiskey’ album is in stores now.
Is this the year the "selfie" stole the Oscars?
A self-portrait of host Ellen DeGeneres and stars including Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper taken during Hollywood's annual Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday quickly became the most shared photo ever on Twitter.
"We got an email from Twitter and we crashed and broke Twitter. We have made history," DeGeneres said shortly after access to the social media site was disrupted due to sharing of her star-studded picture.
Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and new Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, also crowded into the picture, which was snapped by Cooper after DeGeneres mingled with stars seated in the audience.
"I've never tweeted before!" Streep, a three-time Oscar winner, gushed after Cooper snapped the photo with a mobile device.
DeGeneres shared the selfie via her Twitter feed here
It was shared, or retweeted, more than 2 million times in some two hours during the broadcast of the 86th annual Academy Awards.
The photo surpassed the record set by U.S. President Barack Obama's "Four More Years" re-election victory shot. The picture of Obama hugging first lady Michelle Obama on election night in 2012 has been retweeted more than 780,000 times.
Other widely shared photos from Sunday's Oscars included a DeGeneres selfie with Liza Minnelli, taken after the host made a biting comment about the appearance of the veteran actress and Broadway star.
A separate photo taken by a member of the audience showed Minnelli trying to get into DeGeneres' now famous Oscar selfie.
Lots of country stars say they played some rough places when they started out.
Randy Houser, from Lake, Miss., has the stories to back that up. Like the one about a fan named Rocky, who was at one of Randy’s shows.
“He was out there. Wasn’t really doing nothing wrong. He was just a little drunk,” Randy told ABC News Radio.
“And this one guy from another town came up and busted a beer bottle and slit his throat right there in front of us.”
“Next thing I know, I’ve thrown my guitar down, and I have this guy up against the wall with a beer bottle in his hand, up against the wall like I’m gonna do something,” Randy says.
“He could have easily, probably cut my throat, too. We all had to grab Rocky and put something around him. Keep him from bleeding to death.”
Sitting beside a former congressman from Kansas struggling with Alzheimer's, Seth Rogen opened up today before a Senate committee in Washington about his family's own personal battles with the disease.
Rogen, 31, began dating his now-wife Lauren Miller nine years ago when he met her parents for the first time.
He said after meeting the family, Miller admitted something was wrong with her mother Adele. Not long after that, her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's while only in her mid-50's.
The "Knocked Up" star, now an Alzheimer's Association celebrity Champion, said it came as little surprise since both of Adele's parents had the disease as well.
He said at the time, he was in the dark about the disease, thinking "it was something only really, really old people got" and involved "forgetting your keys and mismatched shoes."
"After forgetting who she and her loved one were," Rogen told the panel about his mother-in-law's struggles. "She forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself, all by age of 60."
Rogen said this opened his eyes to what families go through when someone they love has the disease.
"I came here today for few reasons," he testified. "One, I'm a huge 'House of Cards' fan. ... Two, people need more help. I've personally witnessed the massive amount of financial strain this disease causes. ... Three, to show people they are not alone, so few people share their personal stories."
Rogen explained that in a span of 35 years, 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer's -- a disease that experts explained is the most costly disease in America, topping $200 billion for those who need care, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Rogen admitted the disease forced him to act. Along with his wife, they created "Hilarity for Charity," where they have began to inform teens about Alzheimer's.
He hopes this education campaign will change the stigma associated with the debilitating disease.
"Americans whisper the words Alzehimer's," he told lawmakers. "It's needs to be yelled and screamed."