As McDonald’s faces pressure to revive their sales as they lose their consumers to healthier fast-casual options like Chipotle, who promotes organic and local sourcing, they are moving on multiple fronts to stay relevant, and ultimately thrive in an increasingly health-conscious world.
“Bubble Gum Flavored Broccoli” is one thing that McDonald’s has discovered not to do.
This wacky food mashup was a front-runner in McDonald’s attempt to get kids to eat vegetables, with CEO Don Thompson sharing the breakthrough publicly at a VC event. However, unsurprisingly enough, they soon realized that adding sweet flavoring to a vegetable wouldn’t make it any more appetizing to kids who were absolutely confused by the flavor.
The crunchy cruciferous has always been a hard sell with growing palates, and in the past they’ve been smothered with sauces far and wide to make them easier to eat. Broccoli has been whirled into green juices and hidden away with other natural flavors to make a tasty drink. We can imagine that McDonald’s saw a number of benefits with the reflavoring including cost, exclusivity and an offering that fits in the “healthy” category. Since we don’t know how this concoction was created (through additional flavorings or genetics), they’ve left open the door for blowback from related to GMO concerns, ridicule by healthy food advocates and parents that are trying to get their children to explore new tastes and textures.
McDonald’s needs to better understand its own consumers in order to focus their product development efforts. Throwing oddities like bubble gum broccoli at a wall to see what sticks may not be the most efficient way to launch successful innovations.
What emotional and social factors drive people to and away from McDonald’s? What opportunities are there for McDonald’s to encourage healthier eating from their menu? How can the brand launch innovations that support a healthier image that overshadows their “Super Size Me” scar?
To innovate and survive in an increasingly health-conscious world, fast food and casual dining restaurants need to gain consumer insights that can help to identify the best opportunities to stay one step, or multiple steps ahead of the curve for their brand. Consumer understanding is the key, and McDonald’s needs to take their insight to the next level to avoid public missteps as they work to transition their brand.