Operational simplicity has prevailed over customization. McDonald’s said it has ended its “Create Your Taste” customization platform in the U.S. in favor of the simpler “Signature Crafted Recipes” platform that it began testing in San Diego in February. The story was first reported by Business Insider.
The “Create Your Taste” (CYT) platform uses kiosks where customers choose from a wide variety of options—from proteins to buns and toppings—to build a burger as they want it. With “Signature Crafted Recipes” customers choose one of four “Flavors” (topping combinations) plus one of three bun options and a protein (beef, grilled chicken or Crispy buttermilk Chicken). The “Signature” platform was initially tested in 2015 under the name “TasteCrafted.” The chain trademarked “Signature Crafted” in December 2015.
“Signature Crafted Recipes’” four “Flavors” offered in test are ‘Pico Guacamole” (pico de gallo, guacamole, buttermilk ranch, white Cheddar and leaf lettuce), “Maple Bacon Dijon” (maple-flavored bacon, Dijon mustard, caramelized onion, white Cheddar and lettuce), Deluxe (lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo) and “Buffalo Bacon” (blue cheese spread, buffalo sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, tomato and lettuce).
In San Diego and selected Pacific Northwest test markets, the “Signature Crafted Recipes” platform also has offered a “Signature Sriracha” combination with sriracha-flavored Big Mac sauce, baby spinach, white Cheddar, baby Kale, crispy onions and choice of protein. BurgerBusiness.com reported the test in June.
CYT originated in 2014 and was first widely implemented and refined in Australia. It arrived in China in 2015; Canada started rolling it out in September 2015 and it has been added in markets across Europe. We couldn’t make it work, apparently.
CYT was developed during the administration of former CEO Don Thompson. In a Jan. 23, 2015, Q4 earnings call with analysts very shortly before he was replaced by current CEO Steve Easterbrook, Thompson said McDonald’s had “plans to roll Create Your Taste across the majority of our restaurants by the end of this year.” It didn’t happen.
Thompson also said it “has the potential to lift sales of core classics, by bringing more customers into our restaurants.” Apparently that didn’t happen either.
Easterbrook hosted a “Turnaround Summit” for franchisees in April 2015, presenting ideas that could help reverse the brand’s sales slide in the U.S. CYT was among those concepts, but not all franchisees were impressed with its complexity or the cost to implement it. In a survey conducted by restaurant analyst Mark Kalinowski, several voiced concerns. “The ideas presented—such as Create Your Taste—do not fit our business model,” said one.
Said anther operator in the survey, “CYT will cost approximately $125,000 per restaurant. It sounds like, initially, sales with this new concept are very slow taking off.”
Easterbrook has touted CYT’s success in Australia and elsewhere as examples of how the “Experience of the Future” for McDonald’s will evolve: more customization, more technology such as kiosk ordering and expanded table service. All that remains possible with “Signature Crafted Recipes.”
McDonald’s released this statement: “Create Your Taste was a test, which we used as the name for customizable burgers in select U.S. cities. McDonald’s is now testing a customizable burger platform under the name ‘Signature Crafted Recipes.’
“We continue to test a more modern restaurant experience in select markets in the U.S. featuring kiosks that allow customers to pick their bun, protein and ingredients under the Signature Crafted concept and also enjoy table service.
“We are excited for our customers to experience the interactive and engaging features at these restaurants as well as the Signature Crafted concept, and we look forward to leveraging their feedback in our journey to bring a new level of convenience and excitement to the McDonald’s restaurant experience.”