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LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. — McDonald's Corp. will launch a major expansion of its "Create Your Taste" test platform that lets customers customize every aspect of their burger, including the bun type, variety of cheese, toppings and sauces, reported USA Today.
"This is a big deal," said Greg Watson, senior vice president of U.S. menu innovation. "We are all under some pressure that is coming from the business picture not being where we want it to be."
The previous test only existed in four Southern California stores, but it is immediately expanding to 30 locations in Illinois, Wisconsin, Georgia, Missouri and Pennsylvania. In 2015, the test will expand to 2,000 U.S. locations.
Paired with a medium drink and French fries, a customized burger can cost more than $8, higher than the $5 Value Meal. Restaurant employees are often on hand during busy hours to show customers how to use the kiosks.
This menu change could be the most significant since McDonald's added its breakfast program over 40 years ago, and comes as both same-store sales and the younger customer base are decreasing, according to the report.
Company officials note that a large number of McDonald's 27 million daily customers are young, though. "Millennials are still coming to McDonald's," Watson said.
McDonald's is also adding a second meat option to the test platform as it expands. Customers will be able to build their own chicken sandwiches along with burgers. This prompted the name change from the original "Build Your Own Burger" title.
One drawback to customizable sandwiches is the extra preparation time. The average wait for a "Create Your Taste" burger is seven minutes, and it cannot be ordered at the drive-thru. However, test results reportedly indicate that customers are willing to wait.
McDonald's franchisee Robert Nibeel, who owns two restaurants with the test platform, is all in favor of it. "Millennials would much rather order from a machine than face-to-face," he told the news outlet. His own two teenage sons are upset they can't yet order via mobile app.
Through the test program expansion, modernization of restaurants and an upcoming new ad campaign, "McDonald's is listening to the customer," Nibeel added.