Discover the Sneaky Truth About McDonald’s ‘$5 Meal’

By: Georgia | Published: Jun 21, 2024

McDonald’s has launched a new $5 value meal that includes a choice between a McDouble or McChicken sandwich, small fries, a small soft drink, and four McNuggets. 

This offer, set to be available in restaurants starting June 25, has a significant limitation for some customers due to varying regional costs.

Price Variations in High-Cost Areas

In certain areas where labor and rent costs are higher, such as Alaska, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, Manhattan in New York, and Washington, McDonald’s will charge $6 for the same deal. 

A suburban McDonald's restaurant shown during the day, with clear skies, an American flag flying, and cars parked outside

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This pricing strategy addresses the economic disparities across different locations, affecting the uniformity of the nationwide offer.


Limited Duration of the $5 Meal Deal

Contrary to expectations of a summer-long promotion, McDonald’s has announced that this $5 meal deal will only be available for one month

A detailed close-up of a McDonald's cheeseburger, showing layers of a beef patty, cheese, and ketchup on a bun

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This shorter duration contrasts with ongoing summer promotions from competitors, which tend to last throughout the entire season.

Competitors Launched Similar Offers Earlier

Competitors have already introduced similar value meals, with Burger King releasing an almost identical $5 offer last week. 

The iconic Burger King logo on a sign, prominently displayed against a textured wall under an overcast sky

Source: Ismail Hadine/Unsplash

Additionally, Wendy’s and Starbucks have recently launched breakfast deals, further intensifying the competitive landscape in the fast-food industry.

Commitment to Competing on Value

In a Bloomberg News interview on Thursday, Joe Erlinger, the president of McDonald’s US, expressed the company’s dedication to competing aggressively in the market, stating, “We’re committed to winning the value war.”

A scenic twilight view of a McDonald's restaurant, with a glowing sign and palm trees against a colorful sunset sky

Source: Boshoku/Unsplash

This statement highlights McDonald’s strategy to remain competitive against other fast food chains.

Introduction of 'Free Fries Friday'

In addition to the $5 meal, McDonald’s has reintroduced “Free Fries Friday,” an app-only promotion that allows customers to receive a free medium fry with any purchase over $1, available through the end of 2024. 

McDonald's french fries in their signature red carton, set against a vibrant blue background

Source: Nik/Unsplash

This promotion is part of McDonald’s efforts to enhance value for customers using their mobile app.


Reaction from Competitors to McDonald's Deal

Following the leak of McDonald’s new deal in May, competitors quickly rolled out their offers, some even making pointed comments about McDonald’s. 

A McDonald's meal spread on a wooden table, featuring a Big Mac box, a wrapped Bacon Double Cheeseburger, and two portions of fries in red containers

Source: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

This shows the reactive strategies often employed by brands in the highly competitive fast-food sector.


Burger King's Timely Launch

Burger King took a proactive approach by promising in a letter to franchisees to introduce its $5 value meal “before they do.” 

The Burger King logo visible through a window, surrounded by an urban setting with green foliage

Source: Julian Steenbergen/Unsplash

True to their word, Burger King launched its new $5 Your Way Meal last week, offering customers a variety of sandwich choices along with other side items.


Breakfast Offers from Wendy's and Starbucks

Not to be outdone, Wendy’s mocked McDonald’s on social media for copying their ideas while launching a $3 breakfast offer

A close-up view of a Wendy's sign mounted on a red wall, featuring the smiling Wendy character in their classic logo design

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Starbucks also entered the fray with a coffee and food breakfast combo starting at $5, adding more options for consumers looking for morning deals.


McDonald's Focus on Operational Strengths

Despite the competitive moves by rivals, Erlinger emphasized the advantages McDonald’s holds due to its size, stating in his interview with Bloomberg, “The scale of McDonald’s – the latest chain by sales in America – gives it an edge over smaller rivals.” 

A brightly lit McDonald's restaurant at night with neon signage, showcasing a modern design and a busy drive-thru

Source: Shahbaz Ali/Unsplash

This reflects the company’s focus on leveraging its vast scale to maintain a competitive edge.


Concerns Among McDonald's Franchisees

While McDonald’s corporate sees the $5 meal as beneficial, not all franchisees are convinced. 

An urban McDonald's restaurant located at a busy street intersection, with palm trees and various signage

Source: Roman Lopez/Unsplash

Many are concerned that customers might prefer the cheaper meal over more expensive options like the Big Mac, potentially reducing profitability. 


Addressing Public Concerns Over Price Increases

Amidst criticism over rising prices, McDonald’s has made efforts to address public perceptions. 

The iconic McDonald's golden arches logo mounted on a wooden panel with a clear blue sky in the background

Source: Andrii Kordis/Unsplash

Erlinger wrote an open letter to customers last month, stating that prices have “only” risen 40 percent across its 14,000 US restaurants since before the pandemic, attempting to temper concerns over the affordability of their offerings in the current economic climate.