McDonald's disappointing new menu item proves how badly the chain needs to invest in a new chicken sandwich after Popeyes' runaway success (MCD)

Business Insider Finance 3 months ago

This week, McDonald's entered the chicken sandwich battle arena. But, its fighter was unfortunately a flop.

On Wednesday, the fast-food giant introduced a new spicy BBQ chicken sandwich and tenders. The sandwich takes the buttermilk chicken — which is already on McDonald's menu — and coats it with a slightly spicy barbecue sauce.

Business Insider's taste tester Irene Jiang was disappointed by the sandwich.

"It was like McDonald's slapped two chicken tenders on a bun with some onion slivers and BBQ sauce," Jiang reported. "I wondered why McDonald's had even bothered to release it."

McDonald's insiders have been buzzing for months about the need for a new chicken sandwich at the chain, with a group of franchisees pushing the company to make developing a new chicken sandwich a "top priority." A sandwich in testing apparently underwhelmed restaurant operators earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Popeyes chicken sandwich
Popeyes' chicken sandwich.
McDonald's isn't alone in seeking a chicken sandwich that can boost business. Buffalo Wild Wings and Cracker Barrel rolled out new chicken sandwiches in recent months, and Chick-fil-A is currently one of the most successful companies in fast food. And, of course, there's Popeyes' massively successful chicken sandwich, which kicked off the Chicken Sandwich Wars when it debuted in August.

Foot traffic at Popeyes soared by as much as 218.2%, according to foot-traffic tracker Locations across the US ran out of sandwiches— which were supposed to last for two months — in just two weeks.

Instead of exhausting customers' desire for chicken sandwiches, Popeyes' wild success in stores and on social media only seemed to make people crave more chicken.

NPD Group found that US quick-service restaurants' same-store sales were up by 4.4% in August. According to the data analytics group, the launch of Popeyes' chicken sandwich helped boost sales at chicken chains, coinciding with a loss in share for some of the burger-centric rivals.

McDonald's new sandwich should have allowed the chain to jump on the bandwagon and continue the chicken craze. Instead, the menu item landed with a thud — a worrisome flop for the burger chain as Popeyes prepares for the return of its chicken sandwich.

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