"You will see wings again in the U.S. business," McDonald's Corp. CEO Don Thompson vowed last October in an earnings call with analysts. And he makes good on that this week with a limited-time revival of Mighty Wings at what McDonald's hopes will be a more attractive price: five for $3.
Mighty Wings were introduced last year at roughly $1 per wing, a price that was immediately and effectively undercut by KFC and others. Thompson admitted as much in the October call, saying, "Mighty Wings resonated with consumers but performed at the lower end of our expectations." One factor that could be fixed, he said, was price. "$1 per wing was still not considered to be the most competitive in the current environment."
Many McDonald's franchisees complained about the high pricing for Mighty Wings. As BurgerBusiness reported last October, the Janney Capital Markets survey of McDonald's operators found much dissatisfaction. Good product; too expensive," was the opinion of one McDonald's operator. "Hard to sell for $1 per wing when we still have the Dollar Menu," said another. "Pricing seems high when many retailers are offering for as low as 25¢ at happy hour," said a third.
Now that McDonald's has expanded its Dollar Menu & More to include many burger options at $1 or $2, the $3 Mighty Wings may again seem not a value.
Thompson also said Mighty Wings may have under-performed because "the flavor profile was slightly spicy for some consumers." But that doesn't seem to have been adjusted. Packaging for Mighty Wings calls them "Spicy. Bold. Delicious."
Thompson said McDonald's expected to sell 35 million pounds of wings. But The Wall Street Journal reported that 10 million pounds of wings -- about 20 percent of McDonald's stock for the promotion -- remained in freezers awaiting a pricing thaw. Now it's here.
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