McDonald’s Product Managers Prepare To Introduce Meatless Burgers

Soon customers will be able to get a burger at McDonalds that has no meat
Soon customers will be able to get a burger at McDonalds that has no meat
Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson

When we think about burgers, one of the things that comes into just about everyone’s mind is the golden arches of McDonalds. We think about McDonalds as the place that we can always go to get a burger. However, times are changing and people are starting to become more health conscious. They are also starting to think about global warming and the impact of raising all of those beef cattle can have on the environment. Taken together, these are all reasons that the product managers at McDonalds have decided that now is the time to make a change to their product development definition. Not just a little change, but a big change. They are getting ready to roll out their new “McPlant” meatless burger.

Say Hello To The McPlant

The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic has caused even McDonalds to have to make changes to its menu and restaurant operations. Two of the most significant changes that they have made are an emphasis on to-go orders and new “McPlant” vegetarian items. The product managers at McDonalds have announced that they will be testing their own plant-based products in some markets next year. The product managers ran a pilot program earlier this year in Canada to sell patties made by Beyond Meat a leader in the market to sell new plant-based products that closely mimic meat.

The Beyond Meat product managers have said that they developed a patty for the “McPlant” line together with McDonald’s. The McDonald’s product managers have said that the “McPlant” line could include burgers, chicken and breakfast foods. Plant-based meat substitutes have become popular in the past year as they moved onto more fast-food menus and retail shelves. The imitation meats made by Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and other competitors claim to taste and cook more like the genuine article than traditional veggie burgers do. If this turns out to be true, then the McDonald’s product managers may have something to add to their product manager resume.

The arrival of substitute meat products have allowed many chains to cut deals with plant-based meat manufacturers last year, including Burger King’s partnership with Impossible Foods and Dunkin’ Brands deal with Beyond Meat. Both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have added manufacturing capacity to meet rising demand for their products.

Next Steps For Plant Based Foods

The McDonald’s product managers are planning on using local demand to determine where and when to introduce “McPlant” items. The thinking is that it’s not a matter of if McDonald’s gets into plant-based, rather it’s when. As a result of the pandemic, the McDonald’s product managers are testing automated order taking, dedicated drive-through lanes for online orders and a restaurant design with no dining room. Their rivals are also investing in to-go operations. As an example, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. this year built dozens of drive-through lanes for online orders.

In order to be successful in a changing world, the McDonald’s product managers are exploring their own delivery service in some markets with high demand, including Australia and Germany. The thinking is that at McDonald’s, the restaurant experience that they offer must evolve. Rising numbers of coronavirus cases are causing dining rooms to close in some places once again. However, during the pandemic, companies with drive-through and delivery, including McDonald’s, have had an advantage.

Going forward, the product managers at McDonald’s plan to add a crispy chicken sandwich on a toasted potato roll, due to arrive in the U.S. early next year. Competitors have notched big sales increases through chicken sandwiches. The McDonald’s product managers also will be introducing a loyalty program. Starbucks Corp. and other big chains have run loyalty programs for years and attracted millions of regular users to their stores.

What All Of This Means For You

The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected every business, but fast food restaurants have been among the hardest hit. At the same time, consumers are becoming more and more health conscious about what they choose to eat. At one of the largest burger restaurant, McDonalds, these changes have had a big impact on the company. McDonalds understands that they need to make changes to keep up with the evolving needs of their customers. The product managers at McDonalds are now planning on updating their product manager job description and introducing a new McPlant line of meatless products.

The McDonald’s product managers have run successful trials of plant-based burgers in the past. They are now planning on testing the products in select markets over the course of the next year. McDonald’s has partnered with Beyond Meat and they have created meatless versions of a number of McDonald’s products. What’s going on at McDonalds is also going on at other fast food restaurant chains. The McDonalds product managers plan on letting local demand determine where they will be selling the new plant based burgers. Things are changing for McDonalds and so they are going to have to evolve to meet customer needs. McDonalds will also be adding a crispy chicken sandwich and a new loyalty program.

The key to being a successful fast food product manager is to make sure that you remain aware of what your customer’s changing needs are. McDonalds has had a good run with their line of burger products. However, changing customer needs and tastes means that the company has to change in order to be able to continue to meet their customer’s needs. Introducing the McPlant line of meatless products might be just the thing that the company needs to do in order to retain the customers that they have and attract new ones. Perhaps in the future when you go to McDonalds they will ask you “Burger or McPlant?”

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

Question For You: Do you think that McDonalds will have to heavily promote their new McPlant products or will they sell themselves?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Grocery product managers have gone a long time without having to make any big changes. However, in the past few years their job has become more and more challenging. The arrival of online shopping was in the process of fundamentally changing how their business was run. However, just to make things even more complex, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed how people shop for food. This means that grocery product managers now have to make even more changes to their product development definition, and they have to make them fast!