Can McDonald's Better Burger Compete?

Last Updated Jul 7, 2009 4:13 PM EDT

As popular as McDonald's is, food-lovers don't generally argue that the chain's burgers are the best. They may be among the cheapest and the most convenient, but the highest quality? Not so much.

That's more the territory of places like Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which make burgers in the $6 to $10 range but win awards for their quality. And there's a growing market for such restaurants. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Premium burger joints are popping up all around Atlanta, and an analyst doesn't see that trend ending anytime soon."

McDonald's made an attempt to enter the upscale market last week with its nationwide launch of a $4 option that's bigger, made from higher-quality Angus beef, and served on a better bun. The Angus burger is cheaper than menu items at Five Guys and similar fast-casual places, but still pricier than McDonald's other burgers.

Some analysts are questioning how well the product will do given the current state of the economy, which has changed since McDonald's started looking into the idea of a premium burger two years ago. But though the launch may not have come at the best time, McDonald's is not alone -- Burger King and Wendy's are working on their own better-but-pricier burger options as well.

  • Katherine Glover