McDonald's is taking inspiration from its customers as it works to solve its slowing U.S. sales problem with new breakfast items.
In an earnings call Tuesday, CEO Steve Easterbrook said the fast-food chain would launch new breakfast items, but declined to provide more detail. That evening it unveiled its Triple Breakfast Stacks, a limited-time offering.
McDonald's customers will be able to order these meatier breakfast sandwiches, which contain two sausage patties, bacon, two layers of American cheese and an egg layered on either a biscuit, McMuffin or McGriddle starting Nov. 1.
The chain's fans have been known to swap items around to create customized versions of its food, such as by adding hash browns to its Sausage & Egg McMuffin or asking for "secret" items, such as ice cream sandwiched between two cookies instead of being served in a cone.
"People have been hacking our menu for years — so much so that it's inspired our new Triple Breakfast Stacks," Chef Mike Haracz, manager of culinary innovation at McDonald's, said in a statement. "We love seeing the fun ways our customers and McDonald's crew have been creating their own takes on our classics. We can't wait to see what they come up with next — you never know what might end up on our menu."
"Our customers have also told us they have been craving a bigger, more filling sandwich option in the mornings," Linda VanGosen, vice president of menu innovation," said in a statement.
"We want to do better at breakfast," Easterbrook said on its earnings call Tuesday. "We've got some initiatives in place, which we are going see out through the next few months, and also some new food news, which we think will re-energize the daypart," he said, referring to mornings.
This time around, the need for more menu innovation comes as McDonald's has struggled to boost revenue and earnings at a quick enough pace to appease franchisees. The company has been focused on remodeling its restaurants with self-order kiosks and more modern designs, but this investment has proved costly and isn't generating enough return on investment in the near-term.
Not to mention, McDonald's is facing increased competition in the fast food space as more restaurants seek to offer up cheap eats.
"McDonald's results largely confirmed what we learned from our geolocation data — that share losses during breakfast accelerated in 3Q18," Eric Gonzalez, analyst at KeyBanc, wrote in a research note Tuesday. "We believe the company has stemmed its losses at breakfast in the majority of markets and we look forward to new value and menu news in the coming weeks, which should help arrest traffic declines in those markets that continue to struggle."
Shares of the company were down about 1 percent in trading early Wednesday, but are up 7 percent from the same time last year. On Tuesday, McDonald's logged its largest percentage increase since October 2015.