How Fast-Food Restaurants May Improve their Brand Image Internationally: The Marketing Case of McDonald’s

Amandine Duchesne
3 min readOct 30, 2017

Today, McDonald’s, one of the largest restaurant chains of the world, with about 69 million customers per day, approximatively 36,900 outlets and presence in more than 100 countries, is facing lot of criticism, especially for the relatively sudden epidemic of overweight and obesity worldwide among adults and children.

The Challenge and Response of McDonald’s

Among the challenges McDonald’s is currently facing, the most critical one is probably the threat of European countries to reduce advertising to children and ban icons such as Ronald McDonald. The main issue is not the fact the advertising is directed to children, but the fact they’re advertising getting a gift when they purchase a meal. France, Ireland, the UK, Nordic countries and others already took the step by introducing regulations, taxes and laws. In reaction to criticism, the company took a healthier direction. McDonald’s responded to the worldwide obesity concerns by introducing healthier and more natural products. Salads, fruits, carrot sticks as well as high quality coffee and healthy drinks were added to the menu. (See the menu on https://www.mcdonalds.com) With the aim of addressing the obesity issue and changing the brand image, the company also introduced smaller portion sizes. Next to that, the company reworked its advertising campaign towards children. An ad campaign where Ronald McDonald and animated fruit and vegetable were dancing was launched in order to promote active lifestyle. (See the video on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VuFCh-uUOY)

Marketing Strategies to Improve the Brand Image Internationally

In addition to what McDonald’s has already done with the extension of product’s proposal, more actions should be taken. In order to truly improve its image in the eyes of the consumers, McDonald’s has the possibility to opt for different strategies either in terms of advertising, place and distribution, and price.

First, even if McDonald’s replied to obesity claims by promoting healthier alternatives and modernized their advertising campaign to children by adding nutritional information and diet restrictions, the company can go even further. That means McDonald’s should apply the same strategy as one of its main competitor, KFC, who has already stopped its marketing campaign to children due to the global thought of considering marketing to children unethical. Instead of targeting children, the firm may develop strategies directed to parents, using media and food commercials to educate them about making healthier choices to their overall food and marketing environments. By taking this step in Europe, McDonald’s would be on the right way to fully comply to regulations and expectations.

Then, as regard to place and distribution, McDonald’s may improve its brand image by establishing voluntary zoning restrictions, that is to say that the company would be committed not to build outlets at a certain distance from schools or recreation areas. Another idea is to switch the color of its stores from red and yellow to green and white. Indeed, colors such as yellow and red are really aggressive and remind the consumers about fat food such as ketchup or sausage, whereas green and white are more environmental and correspond to healthy food.

Last but not least, about price, McDonald’s is well known for its low and affordable prices, making the brand an attractive option for those consumers with a smaller budget. In that case, in order to promote the purchases of healthful foods, McDonald’s may reduce the price on lower fat meals relative to the higher fat ones by approximatively 20%. The financial feasibility concern of such price reduction intervention strategy may be solved by raising the price of or introducing a tax on popular high fat meals to generate enough revenue and subsidize price reductions on healthier foods.

Here’s about my recommendations to McDonald’s but there are plenty of other strategies to implement. What about YOUR opinion? What do you recommend to McDonald’s?

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Amandine Duchesne

Hi, I’m Amandine, a 22y/o woman international opportunity seeker, last year of Master in Management Science. Get to know me: mynameisamandine.pagecloud.com