From the McDonald’s universe comes a beverage-led chain concept called CosMc’s. Similar to its name, CosMc’s is inspired by an alien character from outer space named CosMc, who originally appeared in marketing materials from the late 1980s through the early 1990s. On CosMc's website, CosMc is branded as an extraterrestrial thief who stole food from McDonaldland and began experimenting and soon created unique beverages, that not only could be paired with McDonalds signature items, but they could also be enjoyed on their own.
Although the thought of this beverage restaurant concept was back in July 2023, the first CosMc’s opened December 7, 2023, in Chicago within the suburb village of Bolingbrook, Illinois. The menu at CosMc’s is not entirely the same as McDonalds, as CosMc’s is mainly focused on its customizable beverage menu and it only includes a few signature food items from the McDonalds menu. The drinks on the menu range from Sour Tango Lemonades to Blueberry Ginger Boost Tea, Popping Pear Slush, Churro Cold Brew Frappé, and Island Pick-Me-Up Punch. These drinks can also be customized by adding in extra popping pearls, flavor syrups, immunity boost shots, pre-workout shots, and vitamin C shots.
While the idea of opening a restaurant that primarily focuses on making and serving drinks is not something that could generate heavy revenue, McDonalds saw the vision and value of the beverage chain concept back in 1993 when the first McCafé was opened in Melbourne, Victoria Australia. This concept focused on McDonalds signature coffee beverages and the pastries it offered in the late nineties and the early 2000s. More McCafé’s were being built in cities and countries everywhere and by 2003 the new branch generated 15% of the total McDonalds revenue. McDonalds has surely recognized this beverage market to generate revenue quickly whilst being in extreme high demand. However, the success of attracting coffee-only consumers proved a challenge, in 2015 McCafé made significantly less revenue than its competitor, Starbucks. McCafé recorded 1.4 billion in sales from around 5,000 outlets while Starbucks generated twenty-one billion in sales from more than 22,000 outlets.
Some might question, ‘Is CosMc’s not the same as McCafé?’ The answer would be no, they are not the same nor did the marketing team for McDonalds believe these two companies would serve the same purpose. McCafé’s target audience was intended for those who were on-the-go during the morning rush and needed that early fix of—you guessed it—coffee. McDonalds is popular among consumers of the middle and lower-class families who are looking for a value meal. CosMc’s differs between the two by focusing primarily on the sluggish mood that settles in when the kids are home from school and the adults are done with work and need that boost of energy back in their step.
By reintroducing a character from the 1980s, it might cause others to question why McDonalds would do this? Is it part of their many marketing strategies to generate more revenue? Is there something they are working towards with this beverage focused business? Another important question to ponder might be why bring this specific mascot back? Today, there are smartphones everywhere and many people are on social media platforms where companies are constantly promoting their services and/or products. McDonalds was no stranger to social media promotion as with the release of a milkshake product was promoted from June 2023 to July 2023 to celebrate the birthday of another beloved McDonalds character Grimace. The course of this social media event changed the marketing game for the beverage industry.
These milkshakes proved to be groundbreaking as profits spiked and the demand for McDonalds increased as people around the world were trying this shake for the first time and reviewing its contents. The marketing team at McDonalds were not neglecting the media as they watched an old character from the eighties rake in millions of dollars. Thus, the idea of bringing back the alien CosMc was brought into play as it struck a chord with not only Gen Z, as they promote and review the menu of CosMc’s, but it also resonates with millennials as they feel the nostalgia of a character from their childhood.
This additional revenue revved up the beverage industry as it is being put towards new technological renovations for CosMc’s and existing McDonalds businesses. AI is currently in the works for McDonalds as it hopes to expand existing technology by creating a drive-thru which will have customers telling their order to a robot, who then relays the order to the kitchen for it to be prepared. Currently, there are several McDonald’s dine-in locations that have a kiosk screen where you walk up to it and input your order on the touchscreen. While it has been noted, it would be extremely expensive to add this technology to existing McDonalds, it is less expensive to incorporate if a new restaurant (CosMc’s) were being constructed. The benefits of this technology, according to McDonalds, are said to be another form of revenue through several different forms.
With the technological advances of having AI, employees can focus primarily on prepping and producing food. Customers tend to spend more money on digital transactions as they have more time to explore the menu and the pictures of food the menu provides gives them clarity to what they would receive, customers would receive less wait times, and it would also mean less face-to-face anxiety when it comes to the interaction between a customer and an employee when ordering a meal. McDonalds hopes to gain more users for their McDonald’s App as they plan to open 10,000 new restaurants globally by 2027. This rapid fast-food chain growth is on the path to increasing revenue and a larger consumer demand for not only McDonald’s but also more consumer awareness for CosMc’s.
As for the current state of CosMc’s, the one located in Chicago seems to be doing quite well in terms of its earnings. One woman took to social media of her 4-hour drive-thru experience at CosMc’s. She noted the unique dining experience through the customization of the drink menu. However, the one critique she had with the customization options was the difficulty of remaking an item if it were to mistakenly be given to the next car as certain items might not be as simple to replace such as a Diet Coke. The customer also noted the pricing between CosMc’s drink menu and its’ competitors drink menu which are about a 50% price difference. Her overall experience seemed worth the 4-hour wait time as she claimed it was ‘delicious and exciting.’
As for the central question, will CosMc’s become the next revolutionary beverage chain? Only time will tell as there are ten new CosMc locations coming to the U.S. in 2024. Several of the locations are said to be in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas and San Antonio, Texas, which is where I am from, and I hope to do a review of this intriguing beverage-led chain soon.
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