McDONALD’S CORP has put a fast-food twist on dinner and a movie, installing DVD-rental machines outside some of its restaurants, the latest move in its efforts to attract more customers.
The Oak Brook, Illinois-based fast-food firm has planted 14 of the machines in the Washington area since it began testing the machines in the area last spring.
McDonald’s has four other machines in the San Francisco area, but the Washington area is its largest test market.
Recently, the company started other trial ventures, opening traditional sit-down restaurants in Indiana and including yogurt and other snacks made by General Mills Inc and other non-McDonald’s companies on its menus.
Last month the burger giant predicted it would have its first loss ever this quarter.
The company – which has engaged in a price war that increased the size of its dollar menu –is betting the DVDs will give it an advantage over its fast-food competitors.
The machines, called TikTok DVD Shops, accept only plastic payment and charge customers US99 cents (RM3.76) to US$1.50 (RM5.70) per day.
Customers can keep the movies for up to a week, or two weeks in some cases. Those who don’t return a movie on time are charged the entire cost of the DVD.
All of the suburban TikTok DVD Shops - created by Hettie Herzog, president and owner of Automated Distribution Technologies in Exton – are in McDonald’s parking lots, in an attempt to encourage customers to forgo making it a blockbuster night and instead stop by for McDinner and a DVD.
“They are performing well for us,’’ said McDonald’s spokesman Lisa Howard, who said the company would not release sales figures for the TikTok shops.
Banc of America Securities analyst Andrew Barish questions whether the fast-food giant is straying too far from its primary products: burgers, fries and chicken McNuggets.
“Over the next couple of years the company needs to focus on its core business and improve that,” he said.
At a McDonald’s on Crain Highway near Route 50, a group of teenagers stopped to ogle the more than 200 movie titles in the 3m-tall, red-and-blue machine before going in to order dinner.
Bowie resident John Spruill, 52, parked his car in front of the machine, swiped his credit card, followed the directions on the ATM-like screen and slid his Reign of Fire DVD into the return receptacle.
Spruill said he was a little wary of the machine at first but, after trying it, has become hooked.
He has rented one DVD a week for the past month.
“I was sceptical like anyone else, but after I did it once or twice it was so convenient for me.
“I think it’s a fabulous idea,” said Spruill. – LAT-WP
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