McDonald's

Lightning in a Bottle

What do you do when you capture lightning in a bottle? When you have such a great idea, you’re not quite sure what to do with it, how fast to move, or whether it really will be the success you think it will be?

In my 32 years at McDonald’s, I saw a lot of great concepts and a few not so great. What happened to some of these as we tried to take full advantage of them, when we really had little idea what we were doing? Let’s take a look at both marketing and new products, particular areas I was involved in.

The Five Guys Mistake

We’re in a really huge shift in the way we do second locations, and customers’ particular tastes have changed. You’re really seeing the customers’ tastes be that if he doesn’t want to go to the Ruby Tuesday, which is the same everywhere, or even the McDonald’s, the customer’s tastes are, “I want my uniqueness, I want my neighborhood feel, I want something special.” That’s why you’re seeing some real struggle with restaurants trying to go out and duplicate what they had and it not being successful. You also don’t want to duplicate exactly because it’s really hard to do.

One Sauce Doesn’t Fit All

Using ketchup to dip or slather french fries is a long-established American tradition. The pairing has not only provided consumers with a distinct flavor, but it has given diners the ability to choose how much of the condiment to use, based on their own tastes.

It turns out that this flavor-control ritual also served as the restaurant industry’s foreshadowing of a much larger concept—individualization—that has been sweeping across the industrial world for the past couple of decades.

Quick-Serve U.

There’s a Wingstop in Dallas where the counters aren’t so neat and the owner drips batter onto the floor, and when tongs fall into the deep fryer, managers stare inside thinking of ways to get them out.

Welcome to Wingstop U. Not a real store, but a mock-up Wingstop that’s part of the company’s headquarters, where training of new franchisees takes place. 

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