McDonald's quietly killed its best deal as fast-food chains battle to win over budget shoppers

Hollis JohnsonMcDonald’s is cutting the Happy Meal from its value menu.

McDonald’s has quietly removed one of the best deals from its value menu.

The fast-food chain has cut the Happy Meal from its national $US1 $US2 $US3 menu, a change first spotted by Brand Eating.

The Happy Meal cost $US3 when McDonald’s launched its new value menu in January. At the time, Business Insider reported that the deal was the “biggest bang for your buck” on the $US1 $US2 $US3 menu. According to Credit Suisse, the $US3 Happy Meal represented a discount of up to 25%.

“The $US1 $US2 $US3 Dollar Menu was created to bring our customers better value with the intent to flexibly rotate menu items on and off over time,” McDonald’s representative Andrea Abate said in an email to Business Insider.

“Some markets may even offer slight variations to the menu that best fit the preferences of their local customers,” Abate continued. “While the Happy Meal is no longer part of the nationally advertised $US1 $US2 $US3 Dollar Menu, it is still available for $US3 at some U.S. restaurants.”

McDonald's Value MenuHollis JohnsonMcDonald’s Happy Meal.

McDonald’s has been exploring a range of ways to win over budget shoppers.

On a call with analysts on Tuesday, McDonald’s announced plans to launch a new “classic meal” deal option. The chain recently wrapped what executives called a “successful” 2-for-$US5 Mix and Match Deal, which debuted in August. McDonald’s has also been pushing digital discounts to convince customers to download its app.

Meanwhile, some analysts have questioned McDonald’s focus on the $US1 $US2 $US3 menu. Neil Saunders, the managing director of GlobalData Retail, wrote in a note on Tuesday that McDonald’s “has focused too strongly on the Dollar Menu.”

“This does drive some traffic, but the message is both tired and drives people to trade down rather than to explore higher priced options,” Saunders continued.

McDonald’s isn’t alone in its value obsession as fast-food rivals battle to win over budget shoppers.

Earlier this year, Wendy’s expanded its 4-for-$US4 bundle deal and Taco Bell doubled down on its $US1 menu. KFC’s US chief marketing officer, Andrea Zahumensky, told Business Insider that the chain is testing new value platforms as customers are increasingly economically squeezed.

“It’s really in response to watching our customers’ needs,” Zahumensky said. “They are more pinched than ever, so we want to provide solutions for them so they can come to KFC and really feel satisfied.”

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