McDonald’s is losing a crucial set of customers: Kids.
For the first time in 25 years, the company has lost its status as the No. 1 chain with the most “kid appeal” and Chick-fil-A has taken its spot, Crain’s Chicago Business reports based on findings from Sandelman & Associates Inc, a restaurant research firm.
Happy Meals are vital to McDonald’s business. They account for 10% of the company’s revenues and help the company connect to large swaths of potential lifetime customers at an early age.
But kids and their parents are losing interest in them. Families with a child age 12 or under represent 14.6% of McDonald’s customers today, down from 18.6% in 2011, according to Technomic.
“Kids are more sophisticated,” Mary Chapman, director of product innovation at Technomic, told Crain’s. “They’re not just looking for the Golden Arches and the toy.”
Chick-fil-A’s kids’ meal options include grilled or fried chicken nuggets, french fries, a fruit cup, milk and juice.
The meals include books in addition to toys.
Part of the shift away from McDonald’s could be due to the fact that more millennials are becoming parents, and millenials favour fast-casual chains, such as Chipotle, over fast food.
The number of 22- to-27-year-olds visiting McDonald’s monthly has been flat since 2011, according to Technomic data cited by the Wall Street Journal. Over the same time period, the number of 19- to 21-year-olds visiting the chains has fallen by 13%.
McDonald’s is trying lure back young families by redesigning its happy meal logo and promoting more nutritious alternatives to french fries and sodas for its kids’ meals, such as carrots, apple slices and milk.
McDonald’s global sales at stores open at least 13 months declined 3.7% in August. Same-store sales in the U.S. slid 2.8%, following a 3.2% decline in July and a 3.5% decline in June.
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