Ever wonder why McDonald's only offers the McRib during the Christmas shopping season?
Well, I wonder why they chose the Christmas season, but I don't wonder about their tactics.
Some say it's meat availability. An informal 2011 study called "A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as
Arbitrage" claims it has to do with the price of pork in the months prior to McDonald's offering of the sandwich. I won't dispute that. I can't say I've ever paid any attention to the market prices of hogs, so it could be true.
But in all honestly, we all know it's one reason --- scarcity creates demand.
A mythology and cult following have sprung up around the McRib. Many moons ago the McRib was just another sandwich among the numerous offerings on the McDonald's menu. In an effort to cut costs, the restaurant chain eliminated many sandwiches, the McRib being one of them. There was a mild public outcry, but McDonald's didn't bend. Instead, they waited...
Years later, they reintroduced it on a limited basic, gambling that its fans would flock to the restaurants to order it. They were correct. The demand sky-rocketed, so when the time period expired, they pulled it off the market again until the next year.
What McDonald's learned was that if the sandwich was on the menu all the time, it lost its allure. But if they created a "limited-time" identity, a culture of McRib-addicts would flood their establishments. -- By the way, this is the same strategy Disney uses for selling its classic movies, except they use the terminology "returning it to the vault" which allows them to charge twice as much for the same movie as they normally would.
Of course, the official McDonald's statement on this is slightly more "politically correct." : "We like to change up our menu throughout the year by offering some limited time only items, like our Shamrock Shake in the Spring."
But does it really matter? In the end, every Christmas season I treat myself to a few McRibs with large fries (of course). It's become a bit of a tradition. People try to discourage me - not clear why they care - but I go and enjoy myself just the same.
Your local McDonald's may still have it on the menu and if you haven't had one yet, better hurry, you're running out of time, 11 months is a long time to wait for this hunk of fast food deliciousness.
Until Next Time...
If everyone tries to tell you how fake the McRib is, here's a short video to dispute that claim.