McDonalds Corp. (NYSE:MCD) is all about the McWrap.
The fast food giant has taken its consumers on a series of twists and turns this summer, shocking Angus burger devotees with the drop of their beloved burger in May, impressing beef eaters with the roll out of its new Quarter Pounders later that month, introducing more unusual items on its foreign menus (hello pasta in Italy), and yet still staying committed to its Dollar Menu promise.
But despite all of McDonald’s radical menu changes, the U.S. company has all eyes fixed on one item: the Premium McWrap. Bloomberg Businessweek details how the success of this big ticket item, which debuted April 1, is of paramount importance to the fast food chain which is reported to have put its blood, sweat, and tears into the new offering. But if it is still unclear why McDonald’s is so anxious to see McWrap McSuccess, here are eight simple reasons:
1. The Mathematics Behind The Perfect Wrap
When sandwich lovers at home construct their masterpiece, it is typically a fairly simple process. Grab your grain, meat, veggie toppings, dressing, and you’re set. Takes less than five minutes, right? But what takes a few minutes for you, has taken McDonald’s almost two years to perfect, so you better believe the company is ensuring that it got your sandwich just right.
The summer blockbuster that took so long to roll out might look simple, but rest assured a great deal of thought and experimentation went into it. The McWrap is a 10-inch, white-flour tortilla wrapped around 3 ounces of grilled or crispy chicken. Lettuce, spring greens, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheddar jack cheese are available to top it, and consumers can choose ranch, sweet chili, or creamy garlic dressing to complete the whole shebang.
2. It’s All About the Ingredients
So if the assembly is so simple, the importance must lie within the McWrap’s ingredients. And it is actually only one: the highly flavorful, crunchy cucumbers that are now available for the made to order sandwich. Though the vegetable isn’t exactly an ingredient to write home about, the cucumber is a game changer for McDonald’s because it reflects the company’s commitment to turning to fresher, more healthy options. The fast food chain hopes that the mighty cucumber will help convince its health-conscious consumers that Ronald McDonald, too, would like to stay at his happy weight.
3. Gunning for Generation Y
Speaking of the health conscious, McDonald’s is hoping that the new McWrap can help it reclaim some bonus points from Generation Y, those between the ages of 18 and 32, who apparently don’t even list the fast food company on their list of top 10 favorite restaurant chains. The age group is extremely important to the success of McDonald’s, as they are now the most targeted group of consumers by producers and are doing a significant amount of consumer spending. But the millenials are also the most notoriously health conscious, so McDonald’s is hoping that its new McWrap will represent the company’s mcpromise to cater to their dietary needs.
4. The Man Behind the McWrap
Surprisingly enough, the brains behind the McWrap operation are not those of Ronald McDonald. In fact, it’s a different kind of celebrity in the food business: Dan Coudreaut. This 47-year-old is the executive chef and vice president of culinary innovation at McDonald’s, and he is largely to thank for the McWrap’s roll out. The largely adored man works at the company’s Oak Brook headquarters in a glass-walled kitchen, but his head wasn’t always in the fast food game. In fact, Coudreaut used to be in another entertainment sphere: the television one. The chef was a child actor with an appearance on All My Children, and although his acting dreams have been replaced by more tasty ones, he still maintains his celebrity-like charm and ease in front of reporters.
5. If At First You Don’t Succeed, McDonald’s Tries Again
The McWrap almost has to be a success because like we said, Coudreaut put his blood, sweat, and tears into this sandwich, and he tried many different variations of them. Finally, he is sure that the current offering is just right. Coudreaut tried dozens of flavors in the early days of the McWrap’s development. While many were delicious, the chef understood the necessity to cater strictly to the average American palate. For example, while hoisin sauce and bulgogi were undoubtedly in the running, Coudreaut recognized that the flavors were too polarizing for the McDonald’s product.
The flavors that Coudreaut did end up deciding on, though, are sweet chili, creamy garlic, and ranch. And as noted earlier, the cucumber is purposely complementary to those flavors. All hail the English cucumber.
The amount of chicken breast and lettuce was also a point of contention for the McWrap construction workers. While the sandwich was initially a half-breast of chicken topped with a lot of produce, Coudreaut eventually stepped away from the greens and decided on a wrap with a full breast of chicken, a handful of shredded lettuce, 10 leaves of spring mix, two cucumber slices, and two tomato slices.
6. What’s In a Name?
And when you have a great wrap, you need a great name. It needed to be grand, but when the sandwich started out as the Grande Wrap, the guinea pigs in the first trial in Chicago were asking McDonald’s to define “grande.” Fresh Garden Wrap was next, but Floridians didn’t go for it. So it was settled. The McWrap was born.
7. Don’t Pardon That Packaging
When McDonald’s landed the sandwich and the name, packaging was next. It seems trivial, but no one likes a ripped tortilla — that’s where the big box comes in. After a series of trial and error, McWrap manufacturers learned that they need to lay the tortilla down after it is steamed for exactly 12 seconds. The ingredients also have to be placed on the warm side of the tortilla if you don’t want to risk the moisture from the tortilla sticking to the box.
8. McDonald’s Might Be Crazy, But It’s Also Crazy Successful
Although as we make our way to reason #8, consumers might think McDonald’s is crazy to spend two years perfecting a sandwich that can be made in three minutes in one’s very own home, we have to hand it to the fast food company: apparently hard work pays off because Coudreaut has called the McWrap a “crazy success.” McDonald’s same-store sales in the U.S. grew a better-than-expected 2.4 percent in May, and the chain is largely thanking the McWrap for its resurrected success. Gary Stibel of the New England Consulting Group explained, “It’s the best piece of total marketing we’ve seen out of them in a long time. It’s convenient, healthy, fresh, good-tasting, and filling. Honestly, it’s a lot of food. They could work on a smaller size. It would be great for kids. They could make it even easier to eat in the car.”
And now that McDonald’s McWrap has seen so much success, who knows where Coudreaut and the English cucumber can go next…