A good article in the Wall Street Journal last week that describes the innovation process at McDonald’s and the invention of the snack wrap.
Years ago, McDonald’s relied on creative franchisees to develop new items in their kitchens. Today, McDonald’s uses a more sophisticated approach led by Dan Coudreaut, director of culinary innovation.
Coudreaut and his four-person team evaluate as many as 1,800 ideas a year to arrive at a handful of items that must be tasty, inexpensive and easy to prepare.
In developing the snack wrap, the product team started with the idea of stuffing chicken inside a tortilla with melted cheese to make a cross between a taco and a quesadilla. They named it a “tacadilla” and tested it with customers. The chefs liked the taste, but customers didn’t like it.
So Coudreaut re-vectored. Instead of melting the cheese, he kept it shredded. He also added ranch sauce. This time, customers who tested the snack wrap liked it.
One lesson learned from Coudreaut’s product development approach: keep it simple.
“You don’t have to have 20 ingredients in something to be great,” Mr. Coudreaut says. According to the article, workers make the snack wrap in as few as 25 seconds.
But I think the key here is that Coudreaut and his team focused on a customer “job to be done”.
“The idea was there were times when our consumers tell us they want something that’s substantial but not so filling,” says Ubong Ituen, senior director for product marketing at McDonald’s U.S. division.
The results: after six months, the snack wrap has become one of the most successful new product launches in the history of McDonald’s.