Study shows that millennials want McDonald’s to be more like Chipotle

It’s no secret that McDonald’s has been scrambling to win back younger consumers.

From all-day breakfast tests to more do-it-yourself fixins’, the chain continues to roll out new ideas in an effort to reverse declining sales.

But one research group has a strategy for the Golden Arches that could appeal to millennials, and it starts with burritos.

Youth marketing research firm Ypulse surveyed 1,000 millennials (ages 13 to 32) and posed the questions: “What would make you eat more often at McDonald's?" and "What would they have to change or improve?”

It turns out younger consumers basically want McDonald’s to be more like Chipotle—even going as far to say the chain should offer burritos.

While some of those polled said that McDonald's still got it -- one male customer said the restaurant was a “great brand” that used “good quality ingredients” -- most said they were concerned with the nutrition value of the food.

According to Ypulse, if the chain wants to appeal to younger consumers, it should spend less time focusing on technology upgrades and more time on what’s being served.

Here are five major ways McDonald’s respondents say could get millennials into its restaurants more often:

1. Upgrade food quality.

“For me, McDonald's is inextricably linked with entirely manufactured, processed foods and obesity. There is no way for me to feel good about eating there,” said one 26-year old respondent.

Despite the fact that McDonald’s recently announced plans to eliminate the use of poultry treated with antibiotics, that change won’t be enough to overcome its reputation for processed, high fat foods. Some cited the fact that nothing “seems fresh” and others said they felt “sick” after consuming a McDonald’s meal. One of the many comparisons to Chipotle was in the fact that the Mexican grill provided “better quality” food at a comparable price.

2. Remove artificial ingredients.

Millennials want more transparency when it comes to what’s in their food and how it’s being made. Many wanted the chain to get rid of artificial ingredients, preservatives, processed products, antibiotics, and GMO ingredients, and replace them with organic or local items. One respondent cited the perception that the chain’s food is “dangerous” due to all the unpronounceable ingredients found in its popular offerings.

3. Cut the fat and the calories.

Though McDonald’s offers food with similar calorie content as other fast food chains like Chipotle and Subway, millennials worried that frequently consuming the chain’s food would lead to poor health. One 22-year old respondent said she would eat at McDonald’s more often “if the food were in that nice, middle line of healthy and unhealthy like Chipotle feels."

4. Serve burritos.

Younger consumers today have greater exposure to a variety of cuisine, so an all-American hamburger and fries just isn’t going to cut it. Many cited craving “cultural” food more often than burgers. "Nothing would make me eat more often at McDonald's due to the fact that I prefer Mexican food over American food,” said one 30-year-old respondent.

5. Offer more variety.

McDonald’s has struggled with its menu in the past few years. From paring it down in order for franchise owners to serve food faster, to beefing up the dollar menu, to again cutting back menu items, the Golden Arches' strategy appears to be all over the place. But  many millennials say despite these efforts, the food just seems to be the same.

"To make me eat more McDonald's they would have to change their flavors, I feel as if everything tastes the same and I don't enjoy it as I did when I was younger,” said one respondent.

Ultimately, millennials just want McDonald’s to make their food healthier and spice it up.