McDonald's to Dole Out Smoothie Samples

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- Similar to what it did last July when it debuted its McCafé line of espresso-based premium coffees, McDonald’s Corp. plans to promote its new Real Fruit Smoothies -- which launched nationwide Tuesday -- with free samples next week, according to a report by Nation’s Restaurant News.

The chain of more than 14,000 quick-service restaurants in the United States will give customers a free sample of its Wild Berry or Strawberry Banana Real Fruit Smoothies July 22-24, said Ashlee Yingling, supervisor of U.S. media relations for McDonald’s.

“The addition of McCafe Real Fruit Smoothies to the McCafe beverage line reinforces McDonald’s as a convenient destination for a variety of quality, great-tasting beverages at a value only McDonald’s can offer,” Yingling said.

Last July, McDonald’s offered free samples of 7-ounce iced mochas and 8-ounce hot mochas on “Mocha Mondays” for four weeks as part of its McCafe launch.

Darren Tristano, executive vice president of market research firm Technomic in Chicago, said the new smoothies should pay off quickly for operators. McDonald’s could make a sensible destination for smoothies, he said, because it has the added convenience of a drive-thru, with lower price points than smoothie chains and a more diverse menu.

“It likely will cannibalize sales of some other beverages, but it should increase the check average and margins,” Tristano said. “If a customer upgrades to a smoothie with their meals, they’ll be willing to pay $1 or so more than a regular soft drink. Smoothies also have a perception of healthfulness, so these will add a ‘healthy’ item to McDonald’s menu.”

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