Have It Your Way... at McDonald's

Chain to Launch 'Create Your Taste' Platform at Same Time it Cuts Menu Items

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In an effort to reduce complexity from its operation, McDonald's will trim eight items from the menu starting in January -- while also addding a customized option for burgers and and chicken sandwiches.

McDonald's McWrap
McDonald's McWrap

The chain said today it will also reduce its extra-value meal combos from 16 to 11. It didn't specify what items would get cut, but the chain is paring down the items in part to help speed up operations. McDonald's noted that four out of five sales are from a small number of items.

During an investor meeting Wednesday, executives hinted at cutting at least some of the McWraps, which the chain introduced in 2013 to lure in millennials. It is also preparing to roll out a "Create your taste" platform, an effort to lure consumers who favor restaurants that allow easy customization like Chipotle. The platform includes kiosks with tablets that lets customers select everything that will go on their sandwiches.

The chain had been testing the concept at a few locations in California, but this week the chain said it would introduce "Create your taste" to 2,000 of its 14,000 U.S. restaurants next year along with all of Australia. CEO Don Thompson said "this is not a test," and characterized it as a "rolling implementation."

The chain continues to see a sales slide and has vowed that 2015 will be a year that will see aggressive changes sparking a turnaround. This year, McDonald's implemented a slew of internal executives changes tapping a new U.S. chief marketing officer in Deborah Wahl. The chain recently held a pitch for ideas for a brand refresh and is working on a Super Bowl ad.

Don Thompson
Don Thompson

It is also focusing more intently on digital innovations like mobile ordering, a concept that Mr. Thompson conceded McDonald's was slow to adopt.

McDonald's sales in November were down 4.6%, the weakest in the U.S. in more than a decade. Globally, its same-store sales for the month were down 2.2%. For the third quarter, both U.S. and global same-store sales were down 3.3%.

In the U.S., McDonald's recently launched its latest transparency effort called, "Our Food. Your Questions," a platforms first rolled out overseas a couple years prior. U.S. President Mike Andres, who officially took the post in October, said that since the launch of the transparency push in October, the company's "brand index" for millennials is up 25%; with moms it's up 18%, according to Golden Arches data.

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