It’s a reality of the fast-food business that what can be ordered in a few words, served up in seconds, and consumed in minutes is often the product of years of research and testing. ConsiderMcDonald’s (MCD) Premium McWrap, launched on April 1 after a première worthy of a summer blockbuster. The McWrap is a 10-inch, white-flour tortilla wrapped around 3 ounces of chicken (grilled or “crispy”), lettuce, spring greens, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheddar jack cheese. On top is ranch, sweet chili, or creamy garlic dressing. You could easily make it at home without a recipe in about five minutes, varying it with whatever hasn’t rotted at the bottom of the veggie drawer. At McDonald’s, it took almost two years to perfect.
Despite its simplicity, the McWrap is one of the most important additions to McDonald’s U.S. menu in years. It’s made to order. It has cucumbers, a new vegetable for McDonald’s. The McWrap is also a salvo in the Fresh Wars: a high-profile attempt to get the attention of customers who have turned to fresher, seemingly healthier offerings from competitors such as Five Guys, Chipotle (CMG), and Subway.
In late March, just days before the introduction of the McWrap, Advertising Ageobtained an internal McDonald’s memo discussing the chain’s struggle to attract customers between the ages of 18 and 32. Noting that McDonald’s didn’t even rank in the millennial generation’s top 10 favorite restaurant chains, the memo went on to say, “McWrap offers us the perfect food offering to address the needs of this very important customer to McDonald’s.” The memo called the McWrap a “Subway buster.” When asked to elaborate, Elizabeth Campbell, senior director of marketing in the U.S., will only say, “We don’t think we have a problem with millennials, but we want to remain relevant to all of our customers.”READ MORE