McDonald’s, since its entry into the Australian market in the Sydney suburb of Yaroonga in 1971 has always been a leader in the Australian fast food industry. Their burgers, the standard question of “do you want fries with that”, Ronald McDonald, Happy Meals and their all-time catchiest Big Mac jingle (two-all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun – phew!) were the epitome of their brand campaigns from their Australian entrance.
Their brand was well known for providing hungry consumers with tasty, quick and convenient products. According to Quester et al (2004) a brand is the use of a name, a term, a symbol or design or a combination of these to identify an organisation or product. Brand familiarity is vital to the success of a business, and McDonald’s for decades has done an excellent job in having its brand, its restaurants and products immediately recognised by the distinctive golden arches of its logo. Further, Iacobucci (2014) suggests that successful brands also offer consumers intangible cognitive and emotional associations associated with that brand. For McDonald’s this would include feelings of indulgence and satisfaction.
For years consumers were going to McDonald’s prepared to purchase just what the menu offered and associated McDonald’s with quick and easy meal satisfaction. They purchased standard tried and tested products such as burgers, fries or nuggets. Sure, sometimes we would ask for cheese on our McChicken burger or for no pickles on our cheeseburger, but we went to McDonald’s for what McDonald’s was – quick, convenient, not the healthiest but tasty.
However, recently we have become more brand conscious AND more health conscious. Add to this, Australians have developed a love, even an obsession for burgers. So, with these changes in mind, how does a once market leading company whose branding is so well recognised for providing tasty, fast, and convenient albeit “fatty and unhealthy products” continue to be a brand and product leader for the hungry health conscious consumer who still loves a good burger? It re-images its brand and creates new products that consumers want.
According to The Australian (2011) the brand decided to veer away from its American counterparts and relate itself to its Australian population – the population that was obsessed with gourmet burgers and who now had a variety of outlets who made these. It decided to give consumers what they were asking for – healthier options, and delicious customisable burgers. This form of new product introduction falls under the co creation or bottom up philosophy of product development. Iacobucci (2014) states that this type of product development is enacted with the assistance and ideas of customers and consumers and this is exactly what the McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer told Good Food Magazine in 2015 – “We’re listening more and assuming less, asking questions and getting answers.”
By listening to its consumers, McDonald’s was able to learn exactly what customers wanted. Variety and options. Some wanted American style burgers (hold the lettuce), others wanted grilled chicken with aioli on a brioche bun (or even a lettuce bun for the health conscious), others wanted to opt for premium Angus beef. So McDonald’s delivered by creating the Create Your Taste menu and interactive touch screen kiosk where consumers could build their own burger, choosing from a variety of buns, proteins, cheeses, salads and sauces.
Before launching this big digression from the normal McDonald’s restaurant experience the company did what it normally did here in Australia – it trialled this concept in a selected number of restaurants, what Iacobucci (2014) describes as beta testing, where the new product range is trialled, tested and improved where necessary. It then began to roll out this new version of McDonald’s across Australia coupled with the new “it’s a little bit fancy” campaign which recognises Australia’s love of fancy and unique burgers and links it back to McDonald’s – where these are available quickly, conveniently and are tasty and satisfying.
Since the introduction of the Create Your Own Taste burgers, McDonald’s Australia has watched its profits and sales soar with The Herald Sun reporting this growth to be at around 4.6%.
The success of brand re-imaging and new product development takes time and skill and requires organisations to listen to their consumers and Ball (2014) believes that McDonald’s in Australia has done just that.
Listening to consumers, creating new gourmet burgers with brioche buns, diversifying it’s once consistent and solid brand image – that IS very un-Mcdonald’s.
Adelaide Food Central (2016) http://adelaidefoodcentral.com
Ball, D (2014) McDonald’s brand reposition starts with a story, Brand Stories, accessed 24 April 2016, http://www.brandstories.net/2014/01/14/mcdonalds-brand-reposition-starts-story/
Browne, R and Han, E (2015) Still want fries with that? Fast-food giants McDonalds and KFC reinvent themselves, Good Food Magazine, 11 January.
Canning, S (2011) It’s a big day for middle aged McDonald’s, The Australian, 22 August.
Whalley, J (2016) McDonald’s all-day breakfast, ‘Create your own taste’ burgers help lift sales, Herald Sun, 26 January.
Iacobucci, D (2014) Marketing Management (MM4), South-Western, Cengage Learning, Mason.
McDonald’s Australia (2016) http://www.mcdonalds.com.au
Quester, P. G, McGuiggan, R. L, Perreault, W. D and McCarthy, E. J (2004) Marketing: Creating and delivering value, fourth edition, McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Ltd.
Youtube (2016) http://youtube.com