McDonald’s Not So Golden With Millennials

Fast-casual rivals like Chipotle capture foothold with younger diners

McDonald’s knows it has an image problem, especially with millennials. But a new study for The Wall Street Journal confirms what the nation’s top burger slinger suspected: Millennials are increasingly turning to fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle Mexican Grill for its healthier menu items.

The study by restaurant consultancy Technomic Inc. revealed that diners in their 20s and 30s are increasingly seeking alternatives to the Golden Arches. Since 2011, the percentage of U.S. customers ages 19 to 21 visiting McDonald’s each month fell by 12.9 percentage points, Technomic reported. For diners ages 22 to 37, monthly visits were flat.

In comparison, monthly visits by 19- to 21-year-olds to fast-casual restaurants increased 2.3 percentage points, with an even greater surge, 5.2 percentage points, for the 22- to 37-year-old set, Technomic reported.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s has been trying to rebrand itself lately and beef up social advertising to boost sales after a disappointing second quarter and in light of negative publicity.

Earlier this month, Mickey D’s reported global same-store sales for U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months have been flat or falling over the past year.

Focusing its efforts close to home, McDonald’s announced Friday that Mike Andres will be the company’s new U.S. president. He replaces Jeff Stratton, who has been with the company for 41 years, but spent just two years as head of its domestic unit.