McDonald’s Seeks Its Just Desserts

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Time was when McDonald’s desserts were cute add-ons that didn’t mean much to the chain’s menu, or its bottom line. They’ve had those piping hot single-serve apple pies for decades, for instance. And there was the occasional Shamrock Shake.

But nowadays, the chain recognizes that desserts can be not just an afterthought for McDonald’s customers but a primary driver of visits, and not just in the afternoons and evenings. So McDonald’s is testing and developing a variety of new dessert possibilities, ranging from a S’More Pie to a chocolate-dipped cone.

McDonalds already had established its McFlurry — the name is a knockoff of Dairy Queen’s category-creating Blizzard — which the fast feeder has sold for several years. But it turns out that the recession and persistent economic sluggishness have only prompted American consumers to become more interested in dessert as comfort food, not less, and McDonald’s wants to get a bigger slice of the pie.[more]

“We’re always trying to find ways to address what customers want and, in turn, help us grow our business,” Adam Salgado, marketing director with McDonald’s USA, told the Los Angeles Times. A “renewed focus in offering variety” is behind the new push. That includes peddling sweets during all day parts; 20 percent of McDonald’s pies already are sold at breakfast.

The dessert push certainly is in keeping with the growth plan that CEO Jim Skinner recently outlined for investors, which includes an emphasis on new menu options.

If McDonald’s can do with desserts what it has managed to do lately in the coffee trade by expanding its McCafé footprint, it will create yet one more reason for consumers to seek out the golden arches.

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