Daily Insights

The Spicy Chicken Salute

By: Mackenzie Baker | Sep 03, 2020

Since McDonald’s introduced McNuggets to its menu in 1983, the recipe and flavor have remained unaltered. For the first time ever, that’s about to change as the restaurant brand looks to win back customers following the Coronavirus pandemic. 

The new Spicy Chicken McNuggets are joining McDonald’s menu for a limited-time. Beginning September 16, diners across the country can indulge in the fiery new feature. Customers can pair their spicy nuggets with the burger brand’s other menu addition, Mighty Hot Sauce, which is its first new dipping sauce in three years. Expanding its chicken offerings could help McDonald’s stay fresh in the competitive fast-casual dining industry, which in recent years has seen a surge in customer’s taste for chicken. Customers have flocked to restaurants to try the newest chicken products, including Popeye’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Chick-fil-A’s spicy tenders. The addition of spicy McNuggets allows McDonald’s to go head-to-head with its fast-casual competitors while tapping into the growing demand for spicy chicken items. 

Spicy McNuggets were actually added to the menu after years of customer requests. By adding a menu item desired by fans, McDonald’s could boost loyalty with ardent customers and potentially turn the limited-addition food into a menu mainstay. Building buzz around the Spicy McNuggets could draw customers in-store and help McDonald’s boost sales after a rough pandemic period. While KFC and Popeyes saw a sales boost after the pandemic hit, McDonald’s faced a 30% sales decline in the second quarter. A large portion of the loss could be attributed to a breakfast sales drop as customers’ morning routines changed, so by pivoting to a non-breakfast menu addition, McDonald’s could draw in customers during different times of the day. McDonald’s is marketing the Spicy McNuggets on Twitter and Instagram, where it reposted fan tweets asking for the new nuggets. By using these social media platforms, which often drive increased engagement and foot traffic according to a Gartner report on the topic, McDonald’s could build buzz around the release and interact with customers across the country. 

The restaurant industry as a whole suffered during the pandemic, but now many brands are preparing for a sales turnaround. For McDonald’s, a post-pandemic flip includes a new menu-item to bring customers in-store. With fast-food chicken continuing to entice consumers, McDonald’s new McNuggets could have just enough spice to stand out.