McDonald's is introducing "Chicken McBites" nationally in early 2012, our sibling publication Crain's Chicago Business reported today.
The move is not only the biggest alteration to the fast food giant's U.S. menu in 2012, it also appears to be part of a plan to try and steal share from fast-food chains like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Popeye's and Boston market, based on documents obtained by Ad Age .
A memo about the soon-to-be-widely-available boxes of tiny chicken morsels that was distributed by OPNAD makes it clear that McDonald's vision is "to be the restaurant that consumers choose first for chicken anytime, anywhere." (OPNAD is not a sinister cabal out of a Bond film, but rather the U.S. cooperative of McDonald's Owner/Operators known as the Operator's National Advertising Fund, which pools its resources to buy national television advertising).
The memo goes on to say January 2012 marks the start of "phase 2 of the chicken strategy toward becoming a credible destination for chicken" and that McDonald's is aiming to put an end to the "switching behavior consumers are displaying within the category." That is to say, McDonald's wants people to eat only its chicken all the time.
McDonald's wouldn't comment on the memo, but here's what you need to know about the McBites:
- They are targeted at "multicultural adults 18-49"
- They are expected to roll out across restaurants around the country for three months next year.
- They have been in testing in Detroit and Phoenix and were apparently well-received and deemed a good value for money
- They are all breast meat and golden brown color with a "light delicate crispness"
- They have a "craveable, home-style flavor profile" made with buttermilk, onion, garlic sugar and salt.
Jim Skinner, McDonald's vice-chairman-CEO, in an earnings call Friday morning waxed poetic about poultry. "We've continued to build on our equity in chicken. In the United States, this quarter, McNugget units were up nearly 10% over last year, as we featured four new dipping sauces. In addition, our premium chicken sandwich line with a new flavor profile and bakery-style whole grain bun continued to perform strongly."Chicken McBites