McDonalds uses San Diego as test market

Henley Doherty | Asst. Business Editor | The USD Vista | @ralphlaurhen

The Habit is currently one of the most popular places for USD students to get a burger. Henley Doherty/The USD Vista

The Habit is currently one of the most popular places for USD students to get a burger. Henley Doherty/The USD Vista

Students have a lot of great choices for fast-food burgers in San Diego. Smash Burger, The Habit, and of course In-N-Out are all very popular choices for students to go and grab the trademark American food. One fast-food restaurant in particular is using San Diego students and residents alike as a test market for their new burgers.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, McDonald’s will be using the city of San Diego as a test market for their new “chef-crafted” sandwiches until the end of this year. Essentially, McDonald’s is allowing customers at San Diego restaurant locations to build their own burgers.

Customers will be able to personally customize their burger by having their choice of bun, meat, as well as three new specialty sauces meant to bring new flavor to the restaurant’s traditional hamburgers. During the test marketing phase, McDonald’s will be testing not only customers’ responses to the new burger customization, but also how much this new feature may slow down lines.

This isn’t the first time that McDonald’s has used San Diego as a test market to try out a new feature on its menu. The restaurant chain has previously used the city to test various items on its menu, including its Sausage McGriddle and Premium Roast Coffee. Most recently, the fast-food chain has used San Diego to test its new all-day breakfast feature. McDonald’s found this new menu feature successful enough to subsequently release it in McDonald’s franchises in cities throughout the U.S. Despite the restaurant’s former favorable results with using San Diego as a test market for their all-day breakfast, this does not guarantee the success of McDonald’s new burger options.

Senior Thomas Bruno’s favorite places to get a burger are Stacked and Hodad’s. Bruno isn’t sure about whether he would be more interested in going to McDonald’s for a burger despite their new sandwich offerings.

“It sounds like a cool idea, and I would probably try it if my friends wanted to to go to McDonald’s,” Bruno said. “But it would not make me more inclined to choose McDonald’s over someplace like Stacked or Hodad’s.”

With their new chef-crafted burgers, McDonald’s hopes to compete with these more gourmet burger restaurants. McDonald’s has a highly varied menu, so only time will tell if its new burgers will be able to attract customers from more specialized burger joints.

Sophomore Anika Ahuja’s favorite fast-food burgers are from In-N-Out and The Habit. Ahuja has similarly mixed feelings about trying the new sandwiches being offered by McDonald’s.

“There are so many other options that unless someone I know strongly recommended it, I’ll probably stick to my favorites,” Ahuja said.

Despite some students’ hesitation towards the new McDonald’s menu options, San Diego is a city with ample opportunity for restaurants and businesses to try out their new products and services.

According to the LA Times, San Diego is one of the most popular cities for large companies to use as a test market. Restaurant chains such as Subway, IHOP, and Starbucks have all used the city as a test market for various new products and services.

San Diego is a large and greatly diverse city, and due to its high levels of tourism, it often allows for all different companies to get a fairly accurate picture of how a product or service will be received by consumers in other major cities. If a product fairs well in San Diego, it is generally thought by businesses that the product can then be profitable in a great variety of other cities not only in the US, but around the world.

Marketing and business research firms based in San Diego are provided with great opportunities to test companies’ new products and services. Students of the business program at USD should also take note of the marketing possibilities that are available to them here in San Diego, with the great diversity and complexity of the consumer markets in the city.

Because San Diego is such a popular city for corporate test marketing, USD business graduates will have the opportunity to take advantage of this if they plan to move into jobs with marketing companies.