McDonald's (MCD) has a new target as it reinvents its beverage business: the milkshake.
The ice cream drinks have been a fast-food favorite for decades. Now, McDonald's is considering giving them a new look, spokeswoman Danya Proud tells DailyFinance. The restaurant giant may start serving the shakes in see-through plastic cups instead of the current white paper cup familiar to fast-food customers the world over.
"We're playing around with repackaging the shakes," Proud says. "We believe there's an opportunity to make them more visually appealing to consumers." The company may even give customers the option of adding cream and a cherry to the milkshake to give it a dessert twist, Proud says.
McDonald's has increasingly pushed beverages such as its coffee and smoothies in a bid to move beyond its traditional burgers-and-fries menu. The strategy has helped the fast-food giant notch more than 25 consecutive quarters of comparable-store sales growth (for stores open at least one year), even as the retail sector has struggled to keep customers spending at a time of high unemployment.
"We've evolved," Proud says. "We can't be stuck selling menu items that aren't desirable or relevant to today's consumers."
McDonald's is currently testing the new milkshake format in Midwestern states including Illinois and Wisconsin and may launch it out nationwide in 2011, Proud says. "It's something that's been extremely well received in tests," she adds, noting that McDonald's hasn't made a final decision on whether to roll out the new-look shakes.
The company is also testing strawberry lemonade drinks and considering expanding its range of teas and juices. Also, Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's began selling oatmeal this month. It will be available all day, rather than just at breakfast. "Oatmeal's increasingly popular," Proud says. "It's going to be interesting to see how people utilize this as a snacking option."
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