I went inside of an older McDonald’s for the first time in over a year last week and couldn’t believe the store’s menu boards had been updated to hi-res flat-panel monitors. Undoubtedly, the QSR industry’s steady conversion to LCD menu board screens spells death and doom for the translite–those translucent plastic panels that have made up menu boards for decades.
Most people probably don’t think or care much about translites, but I can assure you that there is an enormous specialty industry built around designing, printing, and shipping them. McDonald’s alone has over 12,000 restaurants in the US, so one can imagine the translite producers’ joy every time that McD’s or another national chain changed its menu or ran a sales promotion that required new menu board signage. Unfortunately for them, it appears that the translite will soon be obsolete, suffering a fate similar to that of film, land-lines, and Blockbuster stores.
The advantage of digital menu boards for McDonald’s and other fast feeders goes beyond potential cost savings. All QSRs prize consistency across their disparate locations. Thus, the ability to program the appearance of menu boards system-wide from a central file is a god-send for marketing and operations managers. It may make the 10:30 switch from breakfast to lunch a bit easier for store employees as well.