Decrease in Fast Food Sales - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Decrease in Fast Food Sales

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A burger, coke, and fries have been a classic McDonald's lunch for more than 50 years -- but are people spending less time filling up on fast food?

In October, sales at McDonald's went down for the first time since April of 2003, and profits have also taken a tumble recently. So has the fast food giant lost its way?

Marketing professor Michael Belch: "I mean when we were little, McDonald's was the place to go... And for little kids, I think it still is. But when you start to become a teenager, there's a lot more options out there."

Some of these options are fast-casual restaurants and other high-end rivals, but there's also aggressive fast food competitors offering revamped menus and marketing campaigns.

McDonalds? "It's still the Big Mac, it's still the fries," says Michael Belch. "There's nothing new to go in there and get."

There was a time where we could recite McDonald's commercials and jingles -- but is that the case anymore? Has McDonald's gone stale?

"Years ago, you looked at McDonald's, and I would go to class and show their ads and say look, these are great commercials," Professor Belch tells us. "When is the last time you can remember seeing a McDonald's commercial? They just don't have any impact anymore."

Marketing professor Michael Belch says McDonald's needs more product innovation and clever advertising.

Another thing that may be hurting McDonald's is that it started posting calorie counts on its menu boards last year, and Professor Belch says that "some of the other places, as far as health-wise, offer a little better variety."

Restaurants, such as Chipotle and Panera, which offer a more expensive and higher-end menu seem to be making a dent in the fast casual market and stealing customers from McDonald's (McDonald's actually used to own a large piece of Chipotle, but no longer). And also on the healthy eating front, some say Subway's successful ad campaign seems to have drawn away fast food customers as well.

According to press reports, McDonald's sales have also been down in Europe, too, which accounts for about 40% of its business -- so look for more promotions and a revamping of its value menu in the future.

But don't count the Golden Arches out just yet, as its popular pork sandwich McRib will return in December -- potential success delivered on a plastic tray.

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