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How hipster millennials are killing the Big Mac

(AP Photo/Oliver Berg)

(AP Photo/Oliver Berg)

The Wall Street Journal recently uncovered a shocking statistic: 80 percent of millennials have never tried a Big Mac.

Sales of the classic McDonald’s burger have been flat for the past few years, and were growing at only a 1-2 percent annual rate before that, according to WSJ. Meanwhile, fast-casual restaurant chains and “better burger” joints like Five Guys, Smashburger, and Shake Shack have seen much stronger growth in recent years.

Millennials’ attitudes towards food, health, and the environment are taking a toll on the fast food scene. For decades, McDonald’s core strategies have been speed and low cost, however, unlike previous generations, hipsters are willing to spend a little more time and money for a higher quality meal.

A 2012 study by Millennial Marketing concluded that millennials value “variety and diverse flavors” in their meals, and are more likely to view dining out as a social experience. Eighty-seven percent said they would splurge on a nice meal even when money is tight.

“They prefer whole foods over processed foods. They will spend more on ethically sourced meats and farm-to-table experiences,” the report said.

The report also noted that 30 percent of millennials eat organic foods, compared with 21 percent of Gen X-ers and 15 percent of Baby Boomers.

In the past, McDonald’s has attempted to sell burgers with higher-quality ingredients at slightly higher prices, like last year’s limited-edition sirloin burger, but these efforts have failed to meet sales expectations.

McDonald’s burgers came in last place in a 2014 Consumer Reports taste survey of 21 hamburger chains. In response, the fast-food chain has pulled together a panel of “sensory experts” who have spent the past year studying and rating every burger on the market, and McDonald’s is testing different grinds of beef, various buns, toppings, and cook times.

Two new Big Macs are going to be released next year: a larger one called the Grand Mac, and a smaller one called the Mac Jr. Let’s see if millennials try them.

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