McDonald’s is arguable the most famous chain of fast-food restaurants in the world. If we were to take a stab at exactly what launched their success…well it probably wouldn’t be the recipes, the food does not particularly differentiate the brand from its competitors.
What McDonald’s did so well was to create and deliver incredible and wide-spread marketing campaigns to promote their brand. McDonald’s today is a result of a mind-boggling amount of investment into advertising the company’s image all over the world.
It is often argued that some of today’s market trends were created by McDonald’s in their rise to success. We have collated a list of the 10 McDonald’s market trends which have had the most impact. Enjoy!
Extended working hours
People like to eat late at night. Simple premise right? But this simple fact was not observed by other fast-food restaurants operating in the marketplace.
McDonald’s extended its opening hours and in doing so targeted an essentially new audience: people returning from night shifts, late night revellers, travellers coming home late after trips abroad – basically anybody needing a warm meal after nightfall.
For a while, McDonald’s was king of the late night feast, of course it was only a matter of time before other fast-food outlets joined the party and consumer expectations began to change. Today, more and more restaurants are moving to a 24 hour opening time to make the most of a more demanding market.
It is well-know that the quality of fast-food is considered…let’s say questionable. Consumers are becoming more health conscious and aware of what goes in their food than ever before. Customers have started asking difficult questions of their preferred fast-food outlets, wanting to know if the food they order is as reliable and of the quality which the brands suggest.
McDonald’s reacted to the growing interest in their ingredients and food standards with a YouTube channel which broadcasted videos of consumer questions, and their respective answers. More than 20,000 questions were addressed, and each of them answered in the public forum.
Don’t be surprised if other FMCG brands take the same approach in order to earn themselves credibility and trust among their consumers.
Track My Macca
In order to further develop trust in consumers, McDonald’s created an App called Track My Macca. The free mobile app allows customers to trace the origins of the actual items of food they have just purchased.
It uses the phone’s GPS, image recognition plus the date and time, and cross references this with its supply chain information to track down the ingredients specific to your meal. This gives an entire story to the McDonald’s product, all the way from farm to restaurant
Monopoly goes digital
One of McDonald’s longest running campaigns is McDonald’s Monopoly, which celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2015. Based on the board game, McDonald’s Monopoly was played by collecting stickers and attaching them to a board in order to win prizes.
For the 10th anniversary, McDonald’s decided to bring the game to the digital world, making it available to play on mobiles and tablets by entering unique codes from your stickers onto a virtual game board. This was coupled with an increase in high-value prizes and a multi-media marketing campaign.
Happy child. Happy parent.
McDonald’s has forever been a child-friendly restaurant, Ronald McDonald, Happy Meals, play areas the lot. Today’s children are interested in a little more than a slide and a slightly creepy clown. McDonald’s are meeting the demand of the tiny tech-heads with interactive play zones for children in restaurants.
The areas include projections of characters and images, interactive games using tracking cameras and infra red technology, and the use of iPads for customers. Despite the reputation for a quick turnaround, no-frills meal, McDonald’s is clearly looking to improve the dining experience for the younger generation.
With all this tech introduced in restaurants, it makes sense to incorporate it into the McDonald’s experience. In some UK branches, McDonald’s has started to roll out table service, where customers are able to place their orders via digital kiosks or iPad-wielding staff members, and food is delivered direct to them at their table.
This is a huge leap for McDonald’s restaurants and again, is demonstration of the intent to improve customer experience in-branch. Don’t worry if you are feeling nostalgic – the option will still be there to order at the counter for the traditionalist, or less tech-savvy customers.
Keeping it clean
Kick the trash! In Germany in 2010, McDonald’s reacted to claims that the front of their restaurants were dirty and littered with a catchy and topical viral campaign, two months before the 2010 FIFA World Cup, called Kick the trash.
The campaign included an interactive online game which enabled players to share scores on social media and invite friends to play.
The campaign was such a success that McDonald’s visitors took the game to actual bins in front of McDonald’s scores. This was one of the earliest examples of using viral gaming for social marketing – and one which would be followed time and time again.
A social lunch break
In 2012, a simple but effective social media campaign, launched primarily through Facebook, netted up to four times its initial investment.
The central idea behind the ads was for customers to take back their lunch hours and spend the time at McDonald’s, with the secondary message being to enjoy the more luxurious items on the menu. The campaign was intended to drive online conversation and interaction, eg likes and comments, which then spread organically across Facebook.
McDonald’s was really ahead of it’s time in launching this type of viral campaign and was closely monitored by Facebook for the duration. Not only did it result in increased sales, but also copious quantities of valuable customer data.
McDonald’s in China partnered with Rovio, the makers of the popular mobile app game Angry Birds, in order to develop a location-based Angry Birds game for customers in their restaurants. Benefits included special hidden game modes and power-ups which were only available for users within a McDonald’s branch.
Customers were also given the opportunity to vote for their favourite branch, with the winner having a real catapult installed on the iconic golden arches. The collaboration was launched with a TV advert featuring the popular Angry Birds characters
Much as we love Maccy D’s – we are not going to claim that it invented freebie marketing. This is a ploy that has been going on long before the likes of the Bacon Double Cheeseburger. Like many other brands, McDonald’s uses this technique and it does it well, so let’s throw a couple of examples in for luck (and to take us to number 10 of the top 10 McDonald’s market trends!).
National Breakfast Day – what a wonderful day…if you are in Singapore that is. In Singapore in 2015, McDonald’s distributed over 120,000 Egg McMuffins for free, and treated 150 busy parents to a free brekkie.
Another freebie-driven campaign which you may have come across was the ‘breaking the ice’ campaign – supported by digital media, customers could use the McDonald’s app to access a voucher for a free smoothie, the idea behind the campaign being to promote the two new flavours of iced fruit smoothie.