As customer complaints over rising fast food prices continue to climb, McDonald’s CEO had a new message for what comes next.
Prices have risen at fast food restaurants across the country as climbing food and labor costs result in higher totals for customers. But the backlash has been visible in more ways than one.
McDonald’s reported underwhelming results in the fourth quarter, according to NBC News, and Yum Brands showed weaker-than-expected growth in top brands like KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.
McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski said there were fewer visits and lower spending by customers earning $45,000 per year or less.Kempczinski said that as grocery inflation has retreated, those customers are more likely to eat at home.
As a result, Kempczinski promised the company affordability would be a focus this year.
McDonald’s hopes to get those customers back into its stores with marketing that emphasizes low-cost options.
“We certainly know consumers are more wary — and weary — of pricing and we’re going to continue to be consumer-led in our pricing decisions as we look forward to 2024,” Chief Financial Officer Ian Borden said.
Details on what those affordable options might be, or if price cuts are in the works, remain unclear.
The comments come after world’s largest hamburger chain, based in Chicago, was targeted online for a Connecticut restaurant’s $18 Big Mac combo meals and $7 Egg McMuffin. Users on TikTok also started sharing their complaints
McDonald’s told NBC News that pricing is up to franchisees and can vary by location but that the company strives to strike a balance for value.
The news comes as the company has touted several recent changes, including a new concept restaurant in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook called CosMc’s and a promise to open nearly 10,000 new restaurants over the next four years.
The company also recently introduced a new menu item, the “Double Big Mac,” with four beef patties and more Big Mac sauce when compared to its original counterpart. The chain previously said it was making tweaks to its burgers to include meltier cheese and softer, freshly toasted buns.
In 2025, it expects to bring back its McCrispy sandwich to nearly all global markets.