McDonald's changes the name of a chicken sandwich and sales soar

The fast-food burger chain’s simple name change led to double-digit sales increases of the McCrispy Sandwich in the first quarter, proving again that branding matters.
McCrispy name change
McDonald's gave its chicken sandwich the McCrispy name and added a Bacon Ranch and a Bacon Ranch Deluxe version. / Photo courtesy of McDonald's.

What’s in a name? Quite a bit, apparently. Just ask McDonald’s.

The Chicago-based burger giant in February decided to rebrand its Crispy Chicken Sandwich, giving the item the same name as it has in other global markets, such as the U.K. and Canada: The McCrispy.

It was an odd decision, particularly given the sandwich’s generally strong sales since its 2021 introduction. But the move apparently worked. Sales of the product jumped by double digits, thanks to that name change and a little marketing.

“There was no change to the core product,” CFO Ian Borden told investors on Tuesday. Rather, he said, the company simply changed the name, added a new offering in the Bacon Ranch McCrispy and then adding some marketing behind it all. That “helped drive double-digit sales growth in the market,” Borden said.

McDonald’s has been pushing more chicken items around the world of late, believing it can generate revenue growth by catering to consumers’ growing demand for the protein. So far it appears to be working. Same-store sales at the fast-food chain rose 12.6% in the first quarter and have increased in the U.S. for 11 straight periods.

At the same time, the company demonstrated that how you name a product matters. At McDonald’s, getting the “Mc” before a name is a “badge of honor” on the menu.

The company introduced its Crispy Chicken Sandwich two years ago, helping the company to generate 13.6% same-store sales that quarter. They accelerated the next quarter on a two-year basis—to adjust for the impact of the pandemic in the second quarter of 2020.

McDonald’s results outstripped those of one of its biggest rivals, Burger King, which introduced its own chicken sandwich in the summer of 2021. That one was called the Ch’King, and it received rave reviews for quality but sold poorly. Same-store sales declined 1.6% the quarter it was introduced despite easy comparisons. Much of the blame has traditionally gone to the name.

The result hammered Burger King and its franchisees, leading to an overhaul of that brand’s management and later a $400 million investment in marketing and remodels. At least two operators have since declared bankruptcy and Jose Cil, CEO of parent company Restaurant Brands International, has been replaced by a combination of new CEO Josh Kobza and Executive Chairman Patrick Doyle.

And one year after the introduction of the Ch’King, the product was pulled and replaced with a trio of much more simply named Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwiches.

McDonald’s outperformance over Burger King since then on the chicken front apparently did not keep the chain from rebranding that product and making another run at sales growth, which it did last quarter. And McDonald’s now has a McCrispy sandwich in its 10 largest global markets. The sandwich is already a $1 billion brand.

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