McDonald's kicks off its value push

The fast-food giant will start selling its $5 Meal Deal next week as it works to regain lost traffic. But it is also reminding customers of its existing deals.
McDonald's meal deal
McDonald's will start selling its $5 Meal Deal on Tuesday, June 25. | Photo courtesy of McDonald's.

Will a $5 meal deal satiate customers frustrated by high fast-food prices? McDonald’s is about to find out.

The Chicago-based fast-food giant officially kicks off its summertime value push starting next Tuesday, when it will sell its $5 Meal Deal, a combo of a four-piece Chicken McNuggets, small fries, drink and a choice of a McChicken or a McDouble.

The deal is a reaction to weak traffic in recent quarters, which is largely the result of high prices. McDonald’s has raised its prices 40% on average since 2019, itself a reaction to the rising cost of doing business. Costs for the chain’s franchisees have increased 40% over that period, too.

“We heard our fans loud and clear,” Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald’s USA, said in a statement. “They’re looking for even more great value from us, and this summer that’s exactly what they’ll get.”

McDonald’s has largely kept its value offers out of the spotlight over these past few years, choosing instead to give them to customers who download its app and sign up for its loyalty program, MyMcDonald’s Rewards. It also gave local markets the option to introduce their own value offers, based on local demand and prices.

But those offers don’t get the attention that a national value offer does. The company has thus decided that a meal deal, similar to those offered by chains such as Burger King, could help it regain lost customers and shift the conversation back toward fast-food value.

McDonald’s is getting a lot of company in the process. Burger King relaunched its $5 Your Way Meal last week, getting the jump on its longtime rival. Wendy’s has started selling a $3 breakfast combo. Jack in the Box, Subway and several other fast-food chains are also offering value deals.

Even Starbucks, which typically avoids the value offer fray, is selling a “Pairings” menu that starts at $5.

But McDonald’s also wants to shift some focus toward the offers it does have, which can be plentiful if you know where to look. The company has “Free Fries Friday” offering a medium fries with a $1 purchase every Friday through the end of the year. The company will also give away fries on July 13 inside its stores for customers who use the app.

McDonald’s has several other deals on its app, such as 20% off orders of $5 or more in the Minneapolis market.

And the company is reminding people of the local offers. Customers in Columbus, Ohio can get a Double Cheeseburger and small fries for $3.50. Customers in Western New York can get a mix-and-match McChicken and McDouble deal for $3.99.

“As small business owners, it’s our responsibility to deliver great value to our local communities when they need it most,” John Palmaccio, a McDonald’s owner and chair of the Operator’s National Advertising Fund, or OPNAD, said in a statement.

Whether this effort will reverse McDonald’s traffic trends remains to be seen. And the company had to convince franchisees, through OPNAD and other groups, to go along with the $5 offer given concerns about profitability. It wasn’t until Coca-Cola chipped in a contribution that it was OK’d.

Still, the $5 value deal is unlikely to be the last such national offer McDonald’s pushes. The company is testing other options, as consumer concern about prices is unlikely to disappear after a single meal deal that is only expected to run for a month.

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