Sure, we knew that Don Thompson, the new CEO of McDonald’s now that Jim Skinner has stepped down, was an innovator — he introduced McCafe specialty coffees and smoothies to America and Canada, led remodeling efforts, added double-lane drive-throughs and extended hours for the world’s largest restaurant chain.
But this? This is like soda-maker Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) suddenly deciding it should focus more on Sprite than the cola it’s known for — a move that breeds a little head-scratching.
So, why the change? Here are a few of the reasons:
- Consumer trends. To start, the plan is in tune with the overall trend of meat consumption. Poultry consumption is expected to increase almost 2% next year, while beef consumption is supposed to move around the same amount in the opposite direction.
- Tough economy. On top of that, chicken can be priced lower than other proteins like beef, according to Bloomberg, and thus should be appealing to the many cash-conscious consumers in today’s tough economy.
- Calorie-counting customers. The move targets those who are health-conscious too, according to Bloomberg. Chicken is perceived to be healthier — unlike the recently added Bacon McDouble — possibly because of its lower calorie count. While a box of six Chicken McNuggets has 280 calories, a Big Mac has almost double that.
The strategy will manifest itself in many new forms. Bone-in chicken wings and cashew teriyaki salads with chicken are expected, while Spicy Chicken McBites have already debuted.
– Alyssa Oursler, InvestorPlace Editorial Assistant