What gives? Wouldn't you think this would be the worst possible time to for McDonald's to launch more expensive Angus burgers? Will premium products of any sort sell in this tight economy? Obviously, McDonald's is betting these will.

After years of testing its premium Angus burgers in 1000 of its restaurants in a cross section of cities including: Columbus, Ohio; New York, Los Angeles and Albuquerque, New Mexico, McDonald's is about to go national: The company plans on selling its new burgers in all of its U.S. locations for the next few months, at the very least. Possibly longer.
This according to the Associated Press, and dutifully reported by the nation's newspapers, including the Chicago Sun Times.
At $4.00 a pop for Angus burgers at McDonald's and a third of a pound of beef at that, with all the usual fixings and condiments you'd expect. . .debuting in a soft economy. Debuting while the fast food giant is still pushing its value meals. Hmmmm. . . .Interesting and noteworthy from a marketing perspective.
According to the Sun Times: "Despite the continuing recession, spokeswoman Danya Proud said the time is right to launch the 'bigger, premium' burger nationwide.
"Customers are looking for great tasting burgers at a value that only McDonald's can offer," she said. "These premium burgers are a tremendous value compared to similar fast-casual and midscale offers."
This realization puts the whole McD's decision into focus, doesn't it? Let's look at the facts:
Fast-casual chains sell their premium burgers for a whole lot more than $4, generally for $8 or more. That's value–down economy, or not.
Might McD's take some of the premium burger business away from TGI Friday's, Chili's Grill & Bar, Five Guys, etc?
McDonald's has thousands of retail sites and immediate distribution for its new Angus burgers.
McDonald's associates can offer the new Angus burgers to its customers and potentially trade many of them up from the lower-priced burgers on its menu to its pricier–but higher quality, favorful new offering.
Four bucks is still a great deal for better beef–might this be a small luxury consumers will afford themselves as they refuse to pony up a significant amount of cash for pricier luxuries?
Would you be willing to try a larger, premium Angus burger at McDonald's? Do you think $4.00 represents value for this sandwich?
Do you think Angus beef or not, 1/3 of a pound is just too much red meat, fat, etc to be healthy except on occasion?
Do you think McD's will be successful in competing with other fast-casual restaurants offering premium burgers?
Do you think they can take some business away from these other establishments?
What do you think of McDonald's timing in the launch of the new Angus burgers? Is it folly–or sheer brilliance–to offer a pricier sandwich in a tough economy?
I'd love to hear from you.

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Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

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