Designing a recipe for success

McDonald’s

Case study

"Using one of the most sophisticated ‘interactive conjoint’ questionnaires ever devised, we were able to unpick the complex decisions made at the counter by more than 5000 McDonald’s customers."

McDonald’s UK came to us with a long list of subjects for discussion: their whole menu, in fact. Over the years, McDonald’s had grown its menu to dozens of different items, from Breakfast Wraps to Toffee Sundaes. The vast choice, though, had become difficult to understand and navigate for the consumer, and challenging to deliver operationally. Rationalising the menu would simplify things, but where do you start when there are more than 100 items to consider?

We needed to get to the bottom of the choices consumers were making. Using one of the most sophisticated ‘interactive conjoint’ questionnaires ever devised, we were able to unpick the complex decisions made at the counter by more than 5000 McDonald’s customers. By allowing respondents to choose from over 100 menu items as if they were ordering in-store, the study allowed us to deconstruct consumer choice architecture, and to classify the very different needs that McDonald’s serves. We wanted to understand how tweaking the menu would affect the choices consumers made, and how to rationalise the menu in a way that would maintain customer demand.

The main take-away (sorry) from our research was that some items could be dropped without any impact on demand. The narrower menu would free up resource in the chain’s 1000-plus UK kitchens and allow them to improve delivery to the customer. The exercise also helped to pinpoint key needs that were being under-served, defining precisely where innovation could drive more consumer demand in the future.