- McDonald's has introduced a new buy-one, get-one for $1 deal for a limited time. The BOGO lineup includes the Quarter Pounder, Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish and 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, according to a news release.
- This latest deal comes a year and a half after McDonald's launched its $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu, which was enhanced earlier this year to provide more flexibility to local franchisees on what to offer.
- It also comes about a month after the National Owners Association, a group of McDonald's franchisees, drafted a letter to corporate stating that value is not a sustainable growth opportunity.
When it comes to value menus, it's hard to tell which iteration we're on. Wendy's launched its value menu all the way back in 1989, followed by Burger King in 1998 and the McDonald's Dollar Menu in 2003.
Thanks to economies of scale, these quick-service giants can experiment with various value strategies to try and find a sweet spot for consumers that will get them to come in more often. As the NOA noted in its letter to corporate headquarters, however, "we are still losing guest counts" despite the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu. According to Restaurant Business, traffic has been down at McDonald's for the past six quarters.
During McDonald's Q2 earnings report last month, CFO Kevin Ozan said returning to guest count growth in the U.S. remains a top priority. Still, the company's earnings remained impressive, with 5.7% same-store sales growth, and Ozan cited "proven value and deals" for driving the performance.
Restaurant Brands International CEO José Cil acknowledged that Burger King did not have strong enough value offers and messaging during the second quarter. The company launched $1 tacos in July to try to bridge this gap.
Meanwhile, Wendy's CEO Todd Penegor stated that the chain has found the right balance between price and mix, although traffic was also down at the chain. Wendy's plan seems to illustrate how most chains are approaching value right now. "We'll continue to test and learn, make sure that we have the balance right," Penegor said.
Jack in the Box appears to have achieved a viable model. Its focus on bundled value drove both traffic and value in its Q3 without eroding margins, according to QSR Magazine.
Such disparate results underscore the nature of the value menu throughout the years. Sometimes they achieve what they're meant to achieve. Other times, it's not that simple, as customers have different expectations for different brands. The challenge now is that customers have more choices than ever before, so value menus are not quite the silver bullet they used to be to drive traffic.
However, an even bigger challenge would arise if franchisees push back on value, like the McDonald's NOA is doing. Without growing guest counts, their grievances may carry even more weight.