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Will McDonald's go the Five Guys route?

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While we speak, the future of McDonald's is being tinkered on by hipsters in Laguna Niguel, CA, who are creating their specialized BigMacs on iPads. What is the world coming to? Are these the last days? Before you retreat into the iron-enforced nuclear bomb shelter built by that neighbor who owns a crossbow and night vision goggles, wait to see what actually comes of this.

This customization is the basic structure that Five Guys uses, where one can select the specific ingredients, toppings, and cheese that go into your burger, which they make while you wait. Why would McDonald's even be fiddling with these notions? Wouldn't that erode their core model of efficient and expedient? In short, they're desperate. Growth has been painfully slow as of late, and the company feels stuck in a rut, searching for a spark.

Yet this fails to paint a fair, holistic picture of what we see happening here. Great companies are always pushing the boundaries, we just don't always hear about it. Many of McDonald's attempts at progress have proved terrific failures, sometimes even embarrassments. But staying the perennial #1 does not come without cost. The point is that their eyes are fixed forward, still willing to push into new territories. Customization is the trend of the day, and what young, self-entitled customers increasingly expect and are willing to pay for. How far McDonald's and other factory-churning models bend to these whims remains to be seen.

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