Fast-food joints jazz up drink menus for summer
Upscale offerings are on the docket for every major chain, indicating an industry-wide effort to improve margins.
McDonald's (MCD) has changed the fast-food industry in many ways since its first franchise location opened more than 50 years ago. One of its most recent contributions is the idea that a burger joint can be a specialty-drink powerhouse, too. A 2008 study showed that Mickey D's stores offering premium McCafe coffees generated 15% more revenue than a standard location.
So it's no surprise that every fast-food joint under the sun is trying to get in on the beverage biz. Specialty drinks are a high-margin business and are an easy way to experiment with creative new flavors to reach new customers.
The summer heat is a perfect occasion for testing these thirst quenchers, and a laundry list of quick-service restaurants are rolling out drinks that include a Double Stuff Oreo shake, frozen strawberry lemonade and new zero-calorie sodas. Here are some highlights:
- Starting in June, 7-Eleven will reinvent its iconic Slurpee by rolling out cups with dual chambers, a high-tech valve and two straws that let you drink one or two Slurpee flavors at a time. Why choose between Bruisin' Berry or Sour Green when you can have both?
- In May, McDonald's is rolling out frozen strawberry lemonade as its latest McCafe specialty drink. This comes after a previous summer launch of a new McDonald's smoothie menu.
- Drive-in chain Sonic (SONC) has plans in May for a shake dubbed Double Stuff Oreo Blast. As you'll see, it looks like plain old Oreo shakes just don't cut it anymore.
- Wendy's (WEN) sister restaurant Arby's is rolling out a Jamocha Oreo Shake in May. It's a twist on the current coffee drink with added chocolate cookies. Yum.
- And while Arby's moves into coffee, Dunkin' Donuts is moving the other direction -- into soft drinks. DD will roll out a Mountain Dew Coolatta, a frozen slush drink.
- Starbucks (SBUX) knows its niche, however, and is bringing back its Mocha Coconut Frappuccino (starting today!) for a limited time.
- In mid-June, Cold Stone Creamery will debut a Cake 'n' Shake premium drink made with cake-batter ice cream and yellow-cake pieces. Who says you can't have your cake and drink it too?
All of these drinks probably won't come cheap -- and that's the idea. As fast-food restaurants look to boost margins amid food price inflation, premium specialty beverages are the simplest way to "juice" the numbers.
- McDonald's prices rise as beef costs surge
- High-tech Pepsi machines send sodas to your cellphone
- Martha Stewart launches pet clothing line
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
Serious issues like drought and the deterioration of the developed world spell opportunity for this industry leader.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.