Do fast-food chains have an identity crisis?


Do fast-food chains have an identity crisis?Fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut are regularly testing new items to see if they can eat into the market share of more upmarket rivals like Panera and Chipotle. Despite these efforts, experts say their menus aren’t connecting with a younger generation.

In a move to attract this potentially lucrative demographic, traditional fast-food restaurants have added yogurt, salads and soups to their menus, says Julia Gallo-Torres, U.S. food service category manager at research firm Mintel. “These younger consumers are generally more health-conscious, and the group that tends to eat out the most,” she says. “If fast-food restaurants want to appeal to them, offering healthy fare is going to be a must.” Last year, for example, McDonald’s launched McWraps to reach the younger consumer. Burger King also launched a flame-grilled turkey burger aimed at millennials, she says.

But it’s not easy for fast-food joints to go upscale and many restaurants test-run new items, Gallo-Torres says.

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