Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
The fast food business encourages fast thinking.
Competitors strategize quickly in order to gain that extra percentage of margin, the chance to bite a tiny morsel out of their rivals.
This leads them easily into going one way and then veering in the opposite direction.
Perhaps one shouldn’t be surprised, then, at McDonald’s suddenly deciding it’s not quite as fancy as it promised to be.
In an announcement that was so matter-of-fact that it seemed as if the facts didn’t matter, McDonald’s declared there would be “A fresh new Quarter Pounder lineup.”
That sounds uplifting, doesn’t it?
Indeed, the burger chain explained that its experiment with actually serving customers fresh beef, rather than frozen, has proved popular.
McDonald’s decided to begin its announcement with a recap of its fresh successes:
Our customers have said they love our fresh beef. With our new Quarter Pounder Deluxe and Quarter Pounder Bacon, we’ve introduced even more ways to enjoy the classic burger toppings they know and love, now on the fresh beef Quarter Pound patty.
You knew there was bad news coming. The only question was what it would be.
In just a few more lines of PR-sanitized speak, the company admitted:
Based on their feedback, we’ll move away from the Signature Crafted Recipes line on our national menu.
When companies insist their customers insisted on a change, there’s always a tiny moment of pause. Did the customers really insist on this move away? Or did the CFO have a move-away say?
Should you have omitted to sample McDonald’s upscale crafted recipes, these were glories such as the Mushroom and Swiss Burger, the Double Mushroom and Swiss Burger and the Mushroom and Swiss Buttermilk Crispy Chicken. And, of course, the Bacon Smokehouse Burger.
When they were introduced two years ago, some might have had an inkling that McDonald’s was drifting upscale. Or, at least, embracing an upscale element.
Now, it seems that it’s compelled to return to its more hard-nosed roots.
At the time, it used wording that wouldn’t have disgraced the most cynical of PR operatives:
We’ll be simplifying what’s served after midnight so customers can get the most popular favorites as fast as possible.
Of course, it was all about serving the most popular items more quickly.
It seems now, though, that the after midnight part may have been merely a sneaky tease for the big, bad news.
Perhaps one shouldn’t lament.
It may be true that the experiment of classier fare simply didn’t inspire McDonald’s regular customers.
It may also be that the company is ceding the strategic upper echelons to the likes of Shake Shack.
With Burger King ahead of McDonald’s in launching a Veggie Burger — the Impossible Whopper — one can understand McDonald’s wanting to simplify at least a few things in order to address competitive pressures.
At heart, though, one can’t help thinking that having more standard fare based on the Quarter Pounder will allow the chain to raise the speed limit at its drive-thru and within its restaurants, and that’s what this is all about.
Strategic changes aren’t often easy. You need both employees and customers on your side.
Are there enough Signature Crafted fans out there, ready to protest?
The next few weeks might reveal the truth.