I am sitting in McDonald’s right now. Right now, I’m not here for the food, I’m here for the free Internet.
Right now, I’m hearing French. I’m hearing English. I’m hearing German, Spanish, Italian, and other languages of all kinds. I’m in Paris! Why are so many tourists here when they could be eating McDonald’s in their hometown?
This is probably my 50th visit to a McDonald’s since I began traveling over the past few months. During my many visits, I have noticed so many great examples of marketing and branding initiated by the fast food giant.
Many people disapprove and even boycott the multi-billion dollar chain because of it’s unhealthy products and high caloric meals. Even so, I can’t help but admire the amazing brand McDonald’s has managed to build internationally and their diverse customer base . What are some of their brilliant branding efforts?
Distinct colors - The vibrant red and yellow are the same throughout every country I have ever visited. Not only are the colors bright and eye catching, but the signage at every McDonald’s can be seen from at least a block away. Walking down most “touristy areas” the golden arches are a reassuring constant among unfamiliarity and are placed strategically on high streets and in center locations throughout major cities.
Standard products – The products at McDonald’s remain very standard from country to country. Even though the menu is changed somewhat to cater to different demographics, the layout of the menu and format for ordering remain constant. The familiarity is reassuring to many, putting them at ease from the stress of international travel. Going into a McDonald’s you know what to expect. Cheap food, quick lines, and mediocre quality. 9 out of 10 times, your expectation is correct.
I used to work at a McDonald’s. Yes, I mopped bathrooms, cleaned floors, said “would you like fries with that?”. Working at a McDonald’s during my teenage years is something I am far from ashamed of. Not only did I get to flip burgers, but I got to see first hand the efforts McDonald’s went to in order to make each product standard. McDonald’s has so many procedures and regulations that employees must follow in order to ensure that products are prepared in the same way from store to store. From measuring cups, to detailed production charts, the company strives to deliver universal products packaged similarly at each location.
Stay as long as you like - Even though the hard plastic seats are designed for quick meals, not one employee has asked me to leave for sitting for an extended period. How is letting me loiter in their restaurant helping their bottom line? Here are a few reasons:
- Staying so long makes me feel obligated to buy something. Every time I have sat down to use the Internet I have bought a drink. Their markup on soft drinks is an enormous percentage. After working in the food industry and seeing how soda fountains work, you quickly realize how much money is made from water based drinks.
- Because they don’t mind me camping out – I’ll continue to come back. Other places have cut me off the Internet after 1/2 an hour!
- I will recommend McDonald’s to any friends traveling overseas who will be in need of Internet.
- I will be reminded of the feeling of being at ease and comfortable during my last visit, every time I pass another store.
Why would you go to a McDonald’s when you could do that at home? – In countries where I am not a speaker of the language I find it hard to order, and sometimes will even resort to ordering something I don’t even want, just for the ease of the transaction. In the McDonald’s I am in right now, the the menu is in French with some English. But in addition to writing, there are numbers so a tourist could simply say or point to what I would like to order – saving many tourists the frustration of foreign ordering.
From all the countries I have visited I have yet to see a deserted McDonald’s. Why? Familiar atmosphere, a reassuring taste of home, and abundant in cities, McDonald’s is definitely doing more than one thing right in terms of branding and marketing.
Would you like fries with that?