A coffee drinker reviews McDonald’s new digital menu


It was a bit of a surprise when Steve Easterbrook took over as McDonald’s CEO in March 2015. For years, he had been the chain’s president and, most recently, its president of the United States, a position that essentially made him running the business from afar.

Mr. Easterbrook was well known for running McDonald’s restaurants in Britain, an exacting, very visible role. Within just a year of taking over as CEO, he even shortened the chain’s iconic name, which had been long associated with fast food like hamburgers and fries.

When he came on the job, McDonald’s had been struggling — especially domestically. There was trouble making new menu offerings stick, and he soon lost a key partner on his efforts, the former chief operating officer Jan Fields, who left to pursue her own startup. Meanwhile, McDonald’s sales were slowing.

And Mr. Easterbrook was known for being a hard-nosed competitor, so his skills might have been an asset at McDonald’s. But at this point, he really had a full plate. To turn the chain around and change public perceptions, he first turned to a more digital way of preparing food, called McDelivery, hoping to capitalize on shifting restaurant behavior. He also tried to keep fresh food in its restaurants.

He also has made attempts to improve wages and working conditions for McDonald’s workers, though it hasn’t been an easy row to hoe.

And with a new CEO, a new board of directors and a new CEO of its biggest market, the United States, one might have expected that McDonald’s would run up against more obstacles. But in the three years since Mr. Easterbrook’s appointment, the company has made progress with McDelivery and the supply chain. In some senses, McDonald’s now has a much stronger international presence than ever before.

At McDonald’s, the same mantra that applies to its entire menu is self-evident: We are never afraid to change and deliver change in the here and now.

When trying new things, like having a focus group ask them to offer 100 different kinds of fries, we don’t just try to buy a taste for the headline, but we ask them for their advice on how to make the customers’ whole experience better.

Similarly, our menu is very Darwinian. So, for example, our menu in 2019 will carry 100 combinations of the classic six items that I mentioned earlier, but it will also have a selection of 100 items that are making their first appearances on our menu. And that means we have a truly large menu for our customers to choose from.

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