McDonald's November news has been dominated by the announcement of "McPlant", the latest fake-meat venture.
For me, this is a bit of deja-vu. There are similarities to the introduction and roll-out of McCafe in 2008/2009.
First, McCafe was sold to Wall Street long before the actual "testing" even began. The test was not a test but a publicity stunt. The outcome of the McCafe test was predetermined.
Secondly, McCafe was sold as a "Starbucks Killer" and the world outside of McDonald's assumed that McDonald's could duplicate Starbucks drinks and sell them for one-half the price. Today the publicity generated by the fake-meat manufacturers and chains already selling fake products has convinced the mainstream press and some in the QSR industry that the world is clamoring for fake-meat.
The chain that's gotten the most buzz is Burger King with the Impossible Whopper. In truth, Burger King is doing very poorly and domestic same-store sales are flat or down while other major burger chains are trending up nicely. It would be impossible to make the case that the Impossible Whopper is doing anything for Burger King.
Nonetheless, reporter after reporter is writing that McDonald's is "behind" Burger King in serving fake-meat.
Outside of the Owner/Operator capital investment, the biggest risk in venturing into a new product category is the waste of precious advertising dollars. McDonald's management assumes the power of OPNAD can sell anything. So does Wall Street. McCafe proved that to be wrong - OPNAD spent millions and sales went down.
Most McDonald's Owner/Operators are eager to upgrade their chicken lineup next year. I've never heard from an Owner/Operator who wants to invest in or serve fake meat products.