McDonald’s Product Managers Have A Breakfast Problem On Their Hands

by drjim on February 2, 2015

McDonald’s Understands That Breakfast Will Never Be The Same!

McDonald’s Understands That Breakfast Will Never Be The Same!
Image Credit: Restaurant News

Let’s face it, McDonald’s won the battle for breakfast a long time ago. For McDonald’s, breakfast is a big part of where they make their money: 25% of their sales come from breakfast. However, what seemed to be a done deal is starting to look anything like that now. Over at Taco Bell, a new breakfast menu featuring a Waffle Taco has been widely covered by the media and is meeting with positive reviews. Clearly this battle is not over. It may be time for the McDonald’s product managers to start to make changes to their breakfast product development definition. The product managers at McDonald’s need to get creative…

What’s Going Wrong At McDonald’s

At this point in time, the McDonald’s product managers are dealing with not one, but three different challenges to their former dominance of the breakfast meal. The first issue that is confronting them is they’ve started to lose relevance among younger consumers. These buyers no longer think “McDonald’s” when they want to buy a breakfast. Next, the time that it takes to get your breakfast at McDonald’s has gone up lately. The workers at McDonald’s are struggling to try to fill orders as the McDonald’s menu has grown increasingly more complicated. Finally, the McDonald’s standard of service has started to slip. Restaurants are not being kept up and restrooms are not clean. These issues need to be solved or it’s going to start to look bad to have McDonald’s on your product manager resume.

Clearly, McDonald’s has a problem on their hands. At the same time that the McDonald’s product managers are dealing with all of these issues, their competition is reentering the breakfast market. Their #1 threat seems to be coming from Taco Bell – they’ve just introduced their Waffle Taco. White Castle has launched a Belgian Waffle sandwich, and Burger King has launched a value menu with items priced at US$1. Meanwhile, don’t forget Starbucks with their La Soulange pastries and Dunkin’ Doughnuts who plan on opening 400 stores outside of their traditional area of operation.

What used to be a market the McDonald’s dominated has once again turned into a battlefield. One of the problems that the McDonald’s product managers are facing is that McDonald’s does not appear to have any new products to offer for breakfast. This means that the product managers are going to be struggling to gain any customer attention for their breakfast offerings.

What McDonald’s Is Trying To Do To Win The Breakfast War

McDonald’s is a big company with deep pockets and experienced product managers. They are not going to take this threat to their breakfast market lying down. They are going to end up having to do multiple things in order to be able to successfully beat back the competition.

The first things that McDonald’s is planning on doing in order to take back breakfast is to start a marketing push. Because they don’t have any new breakfast foods to talk about, instead the marketing push will be based on talking about their fresh cooked breakfast menu. They want to tell people that they cook their breakfasts, unlike some of their competitors.

Next, McDonald’s is also going to do a marketing push in order to promote their lunch menus which include such items as Big Macs and French Fries. The reason for this is because these core products make up 40% of McDonald’s sales.

Finally, in order to solve the restaurant problems that they have been facing, McDonald’s is planning on making two changes. The first is that they are going to do a better job of optimizing their staffing in order to make sure that they have enough people working at the right times. Finally, they are in the process of installing new prep tables that will allow workers to more efficiently add new toppings when customers customize their orders.

What All Of This Means For You

The fast food business is a tough business to be in. McDonald’s has been there for a long time and has done very well. They used to own the breakfast meal though their size and innovation. However, their competitors have started to realize how valuable breakfast can be and are starting to challenge McDonald’s breakfast empire. Looks like it’s time to update the McDonald’s product manager job description.

The McDonald’s product managers are preparing to fight the competition in a variety of ways. Their first effort was to start to offer free coffee with their breakfast meals. However that was not enough. Their next effort was to use marketing to emphasize that their breakfast meals are all freshly cooked. McDonald’s will also be optimizing their staffing and introducing new prep tables to speed the creation of meals.

The most important factor here is that McDonald’s realizes that they have an issue on their hands when it comes to breakfast. The product managers appear to be taking a fairly standard approach to dealing with this new threat. However, there is a possibility that what they really should be doing is becoming more innovative with the types of food that they offer. Only time will tell if the McDonald’s product managers are taking the right approach to dealing with this competitive threat.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: If you were a McDonald’s product manager, how would you defend your breakfast empire?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Anyone who has ever flown on a plane in the U.S. knows who SkyMall is. They are the company that provides the catalog of things that you probably don’t really need that gets placed in the seat pocket in front of you. Even in today’s modern electronics age, when the flight attendants told you to turn everything off, at some point in time you reached for the SkyMall catalog just to see what was in it. When this happened, they had you! However, SkyMall just announced that they’ll be going out of business. What happened here?

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