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McDonald’s new menu star: Limited time offers

This phoprovided by McDonald's May 3 2012 shows McDonald's iced drink called Cherry Berry Chiller this available everywhere. The beverage

This photo provided by McDonald's on May 3, 2012, shows a McDonald's iced drink called the Cherry Berry Chiller that is available everywhere. The beverage is one of the restaurant's limited-time offers — which are available for only a few months at a time — to keep customers flocking to its restaurants. (AP Photo/McDonald's, Tim Turner)

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Updated: June 5, 2012 11:37AM

The newest stars on the McDonald’s menu won’t be around for long.

The world’s biggest burger chain is beefing up its limited-time offerings for the summer months. It’s launching a seasonal blueberry banana nut oatmeal, which will be available nationwide by mid-month, and an iced drink called the Cherry Berry Chiller is already available everywhere.

In the years ahead, expect McDonald’s to ramp up its pipeline of limited-time offers — which are available for only a few months at a time — to keep customers flocking to its restaurants.

The Oak Brook-based fast food company began its focus on limited-time offers on a national scale last year after research showed that variety was a top priority for consumers, said Wendy Cook, vice president of U.S. marketing at McDonald’s. Previously, the chain’s limited time offers were primarily offered at the regional level. The offers keep loyal customers interested with a variety, but also bring in new customers who otherwise might go elsewhere, she said.

“Obviously customers are out there and they’re frequenting different places,” Cook said. “They’re starved for variety.”

The new focus on limited-time offers comes as McDonald’s looks to extend its dominance in a rapidly changing fast food industry. In 2006, the top three fast food chains in the U.S. in terms of sales were all hamburger chains — McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. Now Subway is No. 2 and Starbucks is in the No. 3 spot, with sales at both companies growing at a much faster clip, according to the food industry researcher Technomic Inc.

For McDonald’s, the limited-time offer also lets the company adapt more easily to evolving consumer tastes that are leaning more toward fresh, seasonal ingredients.


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