It's no secret that fast food restaurants are the most galvanized by the explosion of fast-casual restaurants opening around the country. As consumer tastes expand and develop, discerning customers are looking for a more gourmet experience without the price tag, filling a gap between tried-and-true fast service establishments and local, high-quality restaurants.
In order to remain relevant, several fast food outlets began to expand their menus to tackle meal times that they had ignored in the past. Earlier this year, Taco Bell introduced its "Breakfast Defectors" campaign to lure Millennial customers to their year-old breakfast menu. Specifically, the company took shots at McDonald's breakfast by promoting all-in-one breakfast options like the AM Crunchwrap, perfect for eaters on the go. McDonald's, for it's own part, began testing all-day breakfast in San Diego stores.
Dunkin' Donuts, however, is trying to do the opposite. Long known as a destination for breakfast-oriented foods at any time of day, the chain is experimenting with more menu options for dining in the afternoon. The company introduced tuna, chicken and other types of sandwiches in the past, but will now release Chips Ahoy doughnuts to spur more afternoon sales, citing the growing popularity of doughnuts with American consumers.
The company is seeking to divest its reliance on the breakfast rush at its 18,000 U.S. locations as other chains begin to move into the morning arena. Will the time changes help the industry in the long run? Early results from Taco Bell's foray into breakfast have been very positive, but McDonald's continues to slip despite the test-run of all-day breakfast. Dunkin' Donuts test at garnering more sales in the afternoon comes at an opportune time, but it remains to be seen if the move will make the chain a larger contender in the afternoon hours.