McDonald’s has proven once again that it can successfully appropriate ideas from competitors into its own fast food system. When McDonald’s introduced McCafe espresso drinks earlier this year, it was a shot across Starbucks’ bow. It worked — McDonald’s coffee sales soared to double the 2006 figure.
Turning from hot to cold, for summer 2010 the burger chain launched fruit smoothies and, given North America’s heat wave, the timing couldn’t be better. The Wall Street Journal reports that in July, McDonald’s had its biggest monthly same-store sales boost since January 2009, attributed partially to the new smoothies. McDonald’s president and CEO Don Thompson said the company is “blowing away the high-end projections” they had for smoothie sales.
Smoothie competitors aren’t taking the news lightly. Jamba Juice, whose business revolves around smoothies, just released a mock ad (watch after the jump) poking fun at a supposed “Cheeseburger Chill Smoothie” made from, you guessed it, a cheeseburger.[more]
The smoothie-based chain said, “While we aren’t getting into the burger business anytime soon (or ever), we will continue to bring you the real, fruity goodness of our delicious smoothies (in over 30 customizable flavors) that we know you’ll love.”
Jamba Juice also created a Cheeseburger Chill website, where consumers can download a $1 off coupon or get information on how to redeem McDonald’s smoothie coupons (which were pulled last month) at any Jamba Juice location through Aug. 15.
Daniel Indiviglio, writing in The Atlantic, assessed the McDonald’s move as “microeconomics at work. He says McDonald’s “might be able to obtain a higher profit margin” even though its smoothie prices are lower than the competition because it “has the scale to obtain [smoothie] ingredients even more cheaply than many competitors.”
Oddly enough, Indiviglio also sees a subtle health benefit associated with a McDonald’s smoothie. “You don’t often hear McDonald’s clientele characterized as being very health conscious,” he says, “yet when provided the option of having something perceived as healthy that is also tasty, the average person will consider the option. Think about the psychology involved: ‘Well, I know this Big Mac isn’t very healthy, but if I get a smoothie, then that’s some fruit to balance things out!’ “
When it comes to heat-induced smoothie sales, it’s obvious that McDonald’s is just lovin’ it. Check out the various flavors its summer smoothie campaign comes in: