McDonald’s Losing Connection With Millennials?

(Chicago Tribune/MCT) -

McDonald’s Corp. appears to be losing its connection with a key group of Americans: millennials.

The Wall Street Journal on Monday used data to show the changing tastes of some younger Americans. Data compiled for that newspaper by Technomic Inc., a restaurant consultancy, showed that the percentage of people in the United States aged 19 to 21 who visited McDonald’s monthly has plunged in recent years. And monthly visits to U.S. McDonald’s by those aged 22 to 37 have been flat, according to the story.

Sales at longstanding McDonald’s U.S. locations have fallen in eight of the last nine months. Meanwhile, sales have been soaring at Chipotle Mexican Grill (which McDonald’s used to invest in), and pricier burger joints such as Five Guys continue to expand.

McDonald’s can point to a number of issues for its falling sales at longstanding U.S. locations: There was the extra-chilly winter that kept people at home, there has been no big new Monopoly or other major promotional draw and there have been long wait times at some of its locations.

There is also stepped-up competition on a variety of fronts. Yum Brands’ Taco Bell stole attention from the market leader when it launched a new breakfast menu in late March, and Starbucks Corp. has added some new items to its food menu. While Illinois-based McDonald’s has largely shrugged off competitors’ moves in the morning, during spring conversations with analysts and investors CEO Don Thompson was quick to point out that the restaurant cracks its own eggs for its breakfast foods.

The Wall Street Journal’s report on McDonald’s comes after the chain announced on Friday that Jeff Stratton, the president of its U.S. operations, will be replaced in October by a former McDonald’s executive, Mike Andres. And earlier this month, McDonald’s warned that this year’s sales forecast was at risk of being reduced further, on the heels of issues such as supplier safety concerns in China.