In Japan, McDonald’s has launched a new line of premium burgers entitled the “Quarter Pounder Jewelry Series”. The burgers include premium meat and accompaniments like thickly-sliced pineapple and bacon, Monterey jack cheese, black truffle sauce, chorizo, and avocado. These are all packaged in a glossy white bag (paper bags just don’t say upscale) stamped with the famous arches in gold on the front. Moreover, each burger is wrapped with a gold-colored paper sleeve, and placed in a luxury-watch-box-packaging lookalike of a glossy white paper box. The burger–sans fries and soda (no Happy Meal here), sells for ¥1,000 (about US $10).
But Japan’s upscale menu is somewhat indicative of what McDonald’s is trying to do here in the U.S–attract a new clientele, higher-end consumers. With a $1 billion-plus undertaking, McDonald’s and its franchisees hope, by 2015, the 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants will begin to look more like a Starbucks than feel like a fast food hamburger stand ushering customers quickly in and out. And they are not clowning around, no pun intended. The menu is also seeking to go upscale, along with the look, with the introduction of Beef Tenderloin sandwiches and other premium items in select markets.
In a competitively complex quick service restaurant industry, McDonald’s is looking to better distinguish themselves and gain market share from their competitors. The Reality Check? Can McDonald’s expand their brand image to upscale premium and attract higher end consumers? What do you think? Can McDonald’s dress up the golden arches?