Steve Easterbrook

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I posted yesterday what I thought McDonald’s was going to do to turn around its faltering earnings. I was thinking reformulate, Steve Easterbook was thinking restructure. Financial announcements to investment jockeys are usually about business and operations and that was, indeed, what we heard. I was hoping, naively so, that McDonald’s was going to talk about menu changes and healthier-for-you options that would mirror the tastes of today’s demographic and psychographic. And perhaps take it a step further and lead those who don’t care about healthier-for-you fair down the path of improved diet offerings that still taste good.

Some of this is happening, but Mr. Easterbrook buried the lead. Mostly what he talked about was global reorgs, less layers of management and bottom-line alterations.

Changing McDonald’s into a healthier for you fast food chain cannot happen overnight. I get it. But it has to start somewhere. And it has…by removing antibiotics from the chicken it now buys. For me though, this was the lead and they did not go far enough. This is where the market is going. This is where leaders take the reins.

An announcement about reformulation not a reorganization would have been bold. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Perhaps we should give them another quarter or two.



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In twelve minutes (as I begin this post) McDonald’s Steve Easterbrook will outline his turnaround plan here. This is what I think he should do.

Offer a healthier adjunct menu a la Chipotle. No additives, no preservatives, lower salt – you get the idea. Reduce the number of poorer health products to a handful, but keep them available (for a while). Only allow sale of the healthier for you products in-store while relegating the unhealthier items through the drive-up window.

On the healthier-for-you side of the house, change the menu to add some tasty alternative fair: maybe more fish, veggie burgers, better cheeses, a new class of potatoes and nice drinks. They’ll need to be mass-produced to keep speed up, but that’s where the new innovation must come from. This is where the invention must happen. The price points will go crazy at first, as will earnings, but this is a way forward.

McDonald’s is a great American company. It has not charged with the times or evolved with the science discoveries known to the health and food business. It can. It will. I can’t wait to hear what Mr. Easterbrook has to say.




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