NEW YORK -- McDonald's customers who think they have the menu memorized will notice some changes in the coming months. The fast-food giant plans to focus on offering more nationwide limited-time items, USA Today reported.
In the past, McDonald's limited-time selections were mainly regional, but in 2011, the chain began expanding them to a national scale after market research showed that variety is a top priority for customers, said Wendy Cook, McDonald's vice president of U.S. marketing.
Cook noted that seasonal items give regular customers something new to try and may attract new customers who would otherwise go elsewhere. "Obviously customers are out there, and they're frequenting different places," she said.
Last year, McDonald's offered eight limited-time items across multiple menu categories, such as Frozen Strawberry Lemonade, Asian Chicken Salad and the Angus Chipotle BBQ Burger. More are planned for 2012, including the currently available Chicken McBites. The newest limited-time items to arrive are Blueberry Banana Nut Oatmeal, which will be available throughout the United States by mid-May, and the Cherry Berry Chiller iced drink, which is already available. Both will remain on the menu until mid-August.
This increased focus on limited-time items is part of McDonald's strategy to extend its dominance in a rapidly changing industry, while adapting more easily to consumer tastes that increasingly prefer fresh, seasonal ingredients, according to the report.
Company executives have stated their intention to continue to examine items from areas around the world for those with possible crossover appeal. Developing new menu items can take as long as two years, although the Blueberry Banana Nut Oatmeal took less time because McDonald's used its Fruit and Maple Oatmeal as a template, said Anne Kohlenberger, manager of U.S. marketing for McDonald's breakfast category.
Seasonal items that resonate strongly with consumers may earn a more permanent place on the menu. For instance, the Angus Third Pounder started as a limited-time item in 2009 before becoming a standard offering.