Food, Glorious Food! Or Is It?

Fast food chains are constantly growing in the same manner they were a decade ago. We have all eaten from a fast food restaurant at least once in our lifetime or certainly know someone who has. In my country, a beautiful island called Sri Lanka, the first successful fast food chain opened in the late 90s. The restaurant was McDonald’s and it popularized the “foreign” concept of food in the form of burgers. There is a McDonalds in every part of the world, no matter where you go, be it China, Brazil, India or Africa. How is this company the world’s largest restaurant chain? Well, I have some ideas.

Apart from the very obvious reasons of fast food being convenient and serving food at a good value, there are many others. The restaurant chain is innovative and flexible with their products and services, which goes a long way. According to a New York Times article, there are about three new McDonald’s opening daily in the United States. The goal is to make sure every person is no more than four minutes away from a branch. Such a strategy of branding seems almost imposing to the consumer. Many times I have found myself going to McDonald’s by default and instantly regretting the decision upon noticing another (better tasting) restaurant in the area.

In terms of being innovative with their products, they target young children with promotion strategies of tying up with potential blockbuster movies. By ensnaring the young children through toys and games, they further lure parents with a variety of “healthy” options. From their first menus to their most recent ones, many slight alterations have been made to attract various customers.

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I think that is a great feat to have tapped into so many different markets, especially in countries where the cuisine is very different. This brings me to the flexibility with their menus. Although McDonald’s initial started off in Illinois, they know how to adapt quickly to the environment to attract their target market. Unlike selling technology, food has more specific dietary requirements. In my country, we do not have many pork and beef eaters and therefore, while the Big Mac in the US is a beef burger, we have the option of getting burgers in chicken or beef. Another strategy they have implemented is using our country-specific food in their creations. For example, paneer (a cottage cheese type food) is very popular and instead of just having a veggie sandwich, McDonald’s has come up with the “McSpicy Paneer.” Their continuous experimentation with and incorporation of local cuisine places their company well ahead of others.

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Another thing about McDonald’s that I have noticed is that if an order takes too long they always put in an extra small something to make up for it. I know they are not the only restaurants that do such a thing but I find that these acts go a long, long way in providing customer loyalty. The strategy has certainly worked on me! If I am in that area, I remember the experience and it makes me want to go there again because I know I will be treated well.

The word “fast food” is almost synonymous with the word “McDonald’s” more than any other fast food chain. This brings me to the question of, how much of a choice do we as consumers truly have when it comes to choosing which fast food chain to eat from?

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