PHOTO: CosMc’s 

McDonald’s is experimenting with a fresh restaurant concept, introducing customizable beverages and snacks tailored to afternoon cravings in an effort to compete with rivals like Starbucks and Dunkin’. The company plans to unveil 10 CosMc’s establishments in the first half of the upcoming year, with one near its Chicago headquarters and the remainder in Texas. McDonald’s will assess the results for at least a year before deciding on further expansion.

This announcement was a highly anticipated part of McDonald’s investor conference. In addition to this innovative format, McDonald’s aims to open nearly 10,000 new restaurants globally in the next four years, reaching a total of 50,000 establishments. This growth rate is unprecedented for the world’s largest burger chain.

Some of the food available at CosMc's.

The expansion plan includes 900 new U.S. stores and 1,900 international ones in markets such as Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Australia. McDonald’s also envisions opening another 7,000 international stores operated by licensees, with over half of them in China.

Apart from physical expansion, McDonald’s is counting on CosMc’s to diversify its menu, extend service hours, and keep pace with rapidly growing competitors like Starbucks, which plans to open 55,000 stores globally by 2030. The new CosMc’s format is specifically designed to address a mid-afternoon sales slump, offering a variety of complex beverages like churro frappes, pear-flavored slushes, and turmeric lattes, alongside snacks such as pretzel bites and Egg McMuffins.

McDonald’s is also testing innovative systems at CosMc’s, including drive-thru lanes that adjust to order complexity. The company recognizes the importance of bringing restaurants closer to customers to meet the surging demand for delivery, which accounted for over $16 billion in global sales.

A range of beverages that will be offered at CosMc's.

To enhance efficiency, McDonald’s is exploring a cloud-based partnership with Google Cloud. This move aims to accelerate processes like menu recommendations on ordering kiosks and in the drive-thru lane, as well as optimize staffing based on demand.

Despite concerns about potential cannibalization of existing sales, McDonald’s remains confident in its expansion strategy, backed by robust financial performance. With a focus on core menu items like Quarter Pounders and fries, McDonald’s continues to evolve, introducing improvements such as burgers with softer, freshly toasted buns and plans to expand its chicken offerings globally.

The company also sees significant growth potential in coffee sales, aiming to consolidate its approach under the McCafe brand and standardize equipment suppliers for global consistency. Overall, McDonald’s is positioning itself for a dynamic future through a combination of innovative formats, technological advancements, and menu enhancements.