McDonald's Millennial Move: It's a Wrap

Memo: New McWraps intended as "Subway buster"

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- McDonald's has introduced the new Premium McWrap in restaurants nationwide. The launch is part of the fast feeder's attempt to court millennials (18-to-32-year olds by its own definition), a demographic that it doesn't currently reach effectively.

According to an Ad Age report, the chain does not even rank among the age group's top 10 restaurant chains.

All three varieties of the new tortilla-wrapped entree feature fresh vegetables, grilled or crispy chicken breast along with sauces such as seasoned rice vinegar, sweet chili or creamy garlic served in a convenient hand-held package designed for eating on-the-go.

Customers can choose from three meal-sized Premium McWraps, including the Chicken & Bacon Premium McWrap, Sweet Chili Chicken Premium McWrap or Chicken & Ranch Premium McWrap for $3.99.

The Premium McWrap is McDonald's first permanent menu item to include sliced cucumbers and its first hand-held entree to include fresh spring mix. Varieties range from 360 to 600 calories depending on customer's choice of grilled or crispy chicken.

"Premium McWraps are a great example of how we can bring innovative new tastes to our customers in the U.S. by leveraging successful global menu items, in this case, from McDonald's Europe," said McDonald's USA senior director of culinary innovation Dan Coudreaut. "Also, the packaging design was an important challenge for us as we wanted to ensure our customers can enjoy each bite; whether dining in our restaurants or on-the-go."

The Premium McWrap made its way to the U.S. from McDonald's Europe, where in 2004 it launched in Poland as one of their most successful menu items. The sandwiches were tested on menus in two U.S. cities before appearing in McDonald's restaurants nationwide this week.

In an internal memo obtained by Ad Age, McDonald's said, "McWrap offers us the perfect food offering to address the needs of this very important customer to McDonald's."

Referred to in the memo as a "Subway buster," the McWrap "affords us the platform for customization and variety that our millennial customer is expecting of us. ... Our customers are consistently telling us, particularly millennials, they expect variety, more choices, customization and their ability to be able to personalize their food experience."

The importance of this ability is clear in the McDonald's memo, said the report. "In fact, they have told us that if we did not offer McWrap, 22% of these incremental customers would have gone to Subway."

When asked by Ad Age to comment on the memo, the company said only that "millennials have and will continue to be an important audience for us at McDonald's."

Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's USA LLC is a leading foodservice provider in the United States. Nearly 90% of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local businesspeople.