David Amerland

How McDonald’s Marketing Strategy Helps It Win in Slow Markets

McDonalds Marketing Strategies pay off in the long term
When you have a company that runs 33,000 restaurants in 119 countries around the globe, some of which are franchises and you have had the dubious distinction of having your company associated with low-paying, dead-end jobs you know that half-measures and poor communication is only going to produce obituaries in the business pages of The Times.


McDonald’s has had more than its share of social media disasters and bad press and has worked hard to learn lessons from each slip-up and apply them globally. The very fact that the company was able to report a first quarter like-for-like five per cent increase in net income in a tough global economy is an indication that its strategy is paying off.

The formula McDonald’s uses to achieve this is hardly rocket science. The very fact that the company succeeds is evidence of its corporate will to communicate with “one voice” across different markets and cultures and to use what it learns locally on a global scale. Its model has some very distinct features which can be applied to any business looking for success:

01. Listen and respond. The company has implemented a policy of listening closely to what its customers are saying and responding. This has led to the introduction of healthier options in its menus, low-cost, budget options and even loose change menus, all of which help create a sense of energy, innovation and even excitement about the brand.

02. Trial and scale. This is one thing corporations are brilliant at. Trialling a product locally, learning, refining and developing and then scaling globally. Just because this is a standard way of operating for a corporation does not mean it’s easy to do and McDonald’s do it brilliantly. The company has an excellent history of trialling menus and offers in local markets, gauging response, refining marketing and pricing and then launching it globally.

One recent example of that global collaboration, the Chicken McBites limited-time offer, contributed to the domestic system’s 8.9-percent increase in same-store sales, executives said. The item was developed in Australia and first was a promotional product in Europe.

03. Collaborate across markets. Collaboration is key to success. Whether you work in a small business with six departments or a global giant with a presence in over 100 separate countries if you cannot get a sense that you are playing on the same team, collaborate well and help each other learn from the diverse experience available then the chances are that you are working at odds with each other, rather than together.

04. Keep an eye on competitors. McDonald’s keep tabs on competition from Taco Bell to Burger King, but the company also plans for the long haul. It never makes the mistake of reacting locally to initiatives it has not thought through. The result is that despite the fact that in the first quarter of this year both Taco Bell and Burger King saw a rise in interest thanks to new menus and aggressive advertising, McDonald’s increased its market share.

05. Keep up with the times. Despite its sterling performance, the company plans to upgrade restaurants across the globe and introduce new technologies to help it maintain its image and, above all, keep up with customer expectations. This is far from a simple task and the very fact that it is able to come up with a workable implementation makes it a company which has managed to solve many of the issues which arise from size and communication latency.

06. Focus on long-term relationships. The company is incredibly responsive to what it calls “value engineering”, presenting low-cost menus in tough economy countries (like Portugal right now) increasing footfall and marketshare and then leveraging that, long-term to generate healthy profit as things improve.

Now that you know how  Mickey D does it, can you see whether your own business model hits the same high notes?

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External Links

Abject Lessons Learnt from McDonald’s Social Media Disaster
McDonald's: Technology, menu optimization key in near term

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© 2019 David Amerland. All rights reserved