Rebranding The Key As Fast Food Restaurants Forced To Revamp Value Menus

LOS ANGELES , November 13, 2013 () – My high school algebra teacher Mr. Kawamoto once gave me three words of advice that I’ll never forget:

“People are idiots.”

It’s harsh to say, but in the world of food and beverage, this is true in many ways. Simply put, it’s easy to manipulate the public. Whether it’s fancy packaging or a good ad campaign, consumers are often duped by ways that this industry raises the prices on them.

A perfect case in point are the way fast-food restaurants are revamping their dollar menus amid rising costs, changing tastes and lesser economic incentives. McDonald’s, for example, is changing its Dollar Menu into the Dollar Menu & More. Think about that name for a second. To consumers, that sounds great. “Hey there’s stuff for a dollar and more? Awesome! They don’t realize that now the menu will be dominated with $2 items and $5 family meals.

Wendy’s also did some rebranding that plays well with consumers. Back in January, it changed its 99-cent bargain menu to the Right Price Right Size menu. Again, it’s a great name that plays well with customers. But the reality? The menu now includes items that cost as much as $2 each.

The point is this: Consumers are slow to pick up on the fact that the rebranding of these value menus means higher prices. For fast food restaurants, this transformation is working. And given the fact that value menu sales are considerable—about 14% of McDonald’s sales come from this menu—this fact is not insignificant.

“People are idiots.”

And for the McDonald’s and Wendy’s of the world, that’s a good thing.

Nevin Barich is the Food & Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence. He can be reached at

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