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The Young Folks Aren't Into McDonald's These Days

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Mar 26, 2013 10:20PM

Photo credit: William Bosch

McDonald’s, like other major corporations, is having a problem connecting with millennials, the generation of Americans who came of age at the turn of the century, even as its earnings continues to exceed expectations. Will a little sandwich be able to change their fortunes with Americans between the ages of 18-34?

According to Ad Age, that's exactly what the Golden Arches are hoping with this week's launch of the McWrap. Dubbed the "Subway buster" in internal memos, it's a naked attempt to cater to an demographic that, according to numerous reports, doesn't like naked marketing attempts and prefers to express its likes and dislikes with the click of a mouse.

From the memo:

"Our customers are consistently telling us, particularly millennials, they expect variety, more choices, customization and their ability to be able to personalize their food experience."

And a major reason why McDonald's exceeds earnings projections year after year is because their menus have expanded well beyond two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun. All their menu additions in the past decade have been with an eye toward solidifying their market share. So even as hamburger chains have seen a 16 percent decline in traffic from millennials the past five years, McDonald's has been able to retain and expand its profit margins with a wider menu and, particularly, its Dollar menu.

Which leads us to another quote from the memo:

"In fact, they have told us that if we did not offer McWrap, 22% of these incremental customers would have gone to Subway."

Simply put, there are more options these days and not just under the Golden Arches. No amount of marketing will change that.