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Facing Slumping Sales in India, McDonald's Makes Rare Change to Big Mac India holds lots of potential for fast food chains, but new competitors have forced big eateries to keep things fresh.

By Lindsay Friedman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Facing a bit of a rough patch, McDonald's and other fast food chains are rethinking how they take on India.

After a flood of outlets including McDonald's, KFC, Domino's and Pizza Hut rushed to the country expecting a surge of the middle class, the market is slowing for these big players, oversaturated with India-based competitors and newcomers such as Starbucks and Burger King, according to The Wall Street Journal. Many Indians are simply no longer excited by what these companies offer.

Related: The 4 Things You Need to Know About McDonald's Turnaround Plan

India, with a population of 1.2 billion, holds huge potential for businesses looking to expand overseas. But many of its people live on $1.90 or less a day, below the international poverty line, so fast food is something of a luxury.

As franchises struggle to find a way to capture customer's interest, they're beginning to revamp options on the menu. For example, for the first time in years, McDonald's is changing one of its bestsellers, the Big Mac (known in India as the Maharaja Mac). Beginning in January, it came with thicker chicken patties, jalapeños and habanero sauce. With it came a vegetarian option as well, using two corn and cheese patties. It also added a slew of other products, such as chili flakes and an ice cream dish.

Like McDonald's, the Indian company that oversees Domino's is trying "every trick in the book," says a local executive.

Related: Pizza Hut Launches a Line of Pizza-Themed Apparel

The pizza chain is offering huge discounts and adding more variety for its consumers. To design more pies, it even hired a Michelin-starred Indian chef.

Pizza Hut is taking it one step further with its discounts. Take the mini chickpea pizza, for instance, available for less than $1. The restaurant is also considering the possibility of allowing customers in the kitchen to make their own pizzas.

"These are difficult times," Pizza Hut's Indian head Unnat Varma told The Wall Street Journal. "People with staying power will withstand the short-term pressures. The ones who don't will have to shut shop."

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

Lindsay Friedman

Staff writer. Frequently covers franchise news and food trends.

Lindsay Friedman is a staff writer at

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