Amid slumping sales and fierce competition McDonald's continues to roll out new initiatives in the hopes of regaining popularity with the American (and international) public. One of its latest stunts is a new build-your-own-burger kiosk — a digital display the company calls Create Your Taste — which allows the customer to pick from dozens of ingredients and hundreds of combinations. It's a stretch for a brand that was founded on a streamlined, easy-to-serve menu, but an essential answer to consumers' cries for variety and choice.
The Create Your Taste kiosk launched at McDonald's locations in Australia last September. After some success, the program spread to 2,000 locations in the U.S. (mostly in Southern California) in December. Today, a kiosk opened at a busy location in New York City, on Third Avenue near 58th Street. The AP reports that the kiosk is easy to use: After placing an order, customers take a number from a tray nearby, and when their burger is ready a McDonald's employee brings the burger to the table.
That consumers aren't required to approach the counter to pick up their food — and that it's not ready immediately after the order is placed — is an important break from the fast food service model. With Create Your Taste, McDonald's is borrowing a big aspect from the fast casual service sector by having an employee step away from behind her or his post at the register to deliver the food to the table. The burger is served open-face, and the fries come in a small metal basket instead of McDonald's iconic red paper box — clearly another play at enhancing the perception of quality.
But will New Yorkers — generally fickle consumers with little time and thousands of dining options within reach — embrace the new technology? And will it get them to eat at McDonald's more often? The New York City market could be a true test of the success of this single product, and while it certainly won't make or break McDonald's larger marketing plan and consumer outreach, it may determine whether or not McDonald's will bring Create Your Taste into other major metropolitan areas.
As the AP notes in the video below, with McDonald's losing customers and shuttering locations, "it needs to do something different." Is offering more options part of the solution McDonald's seeks? The company's new CEO Steve Easterbrook recently told Wall Street analysts: "There is no silver bullet, no one move that will turn a business that's been in decline for nearly three years." Watch the full segment below: