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Burger Chains Try ‘Tactical Adjustments’

McDonald's is testing new toppings to jazz up the Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Last month, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson responded to a disappointing earnings report by promising to make “tactical adjustments” to build customer traffic. The test of the Egg White Delight McMuffin reported here last week was one example. Now more are coming clear.

◙  In Northern California, McDonald’s is trying a trio of jazzed up Quarter Pounders with Cheese. As with the recently launched CBO Angus and chicken sandwiches, the new QPCs simply add new toppings to an existing patty.

Being tested are a Quarter Pounder Habanero Ranch, with Cheddar, hickory-smoked bacon, leaf lettuce, tomato and habanero ranch sauce; a Quarter Pounder Deluxe with American cheese, tomato, leaf lettuce, red onion, crinkle-cut pickles, mayo and mustard; and a Quarter Pounder Bacon and Cheese with American cheese, hickory-smoked bacon, red onion, crinkle-cut pickles, ketchup and mustard. The new QPCs are on offer in 14 Northern California counties, including the Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto markets.

This is somewhat akin to the approach Red Robin has taken with the Tavern Double burger it introduced in April. Customers can dress up that burger with one of several topping styles for a $1 upcharge. For example, “Cantina Jack Style” adds green-chile aïoli , roasted green chiles and pepper-Jack cheese; “Pig Out Style” adds bacon aïoli and bacon.

◙  In another test, this one in New England and Albany, N.Y., McDonald’s is offering “5 Extra Value Meals Under $5” in a continuing effort to bring more value-minded customers. The five meals, reported by QSRWeb, are:
●Big Mac, medium fries, medium soft drink;
●Quarter Pounder with Cheese, medium fries, medium soft drink;
●Filet-O-Fish, medium fries, medium soft drink;
●10-Piece Chicken McNuggets, medium fries, medium soft drink; and
●Two Cheeseburgers, medium fries, medium soft drink.

Burger King has a dedicated website for its delivery test.

“Our launch of the 5 Extra Value Meals Under $5 menu allows us to better meet our customers’ desire for quality food at a great price with the convenience we’re known for,” Nicole, DiNoia, communications manager for McDonald’s Boston Region, said in a release. “Now our customers can enjoy some core McDonald’s favorites as a medium meal for a great value, every day.”

◙  Another tactical response is seen at the drive-thru window for an increasing number of McDonald’s restaurants where a sign announces, “We Accept Our Competitors’ Coupons on Any Comparable McDonald’s Item.”

◙  Rival Burger King has a few tactical maneuvers of its own. The chain this week announced it will expand its BK® Delivers test program into New York City. It plans to have as many as 10 participating restaurants by year-end in the Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan boroughs. Previously, Burger King introduced the test to selected locations in BK® Delivers is also available in Miami, Houston and Washington, D.C. The service has its own sub-site at BKDelivers.com.

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