Corporate Social Action of McDonald's and the Problem of Obesity
Corporate Social Responsibility
This paper proposes a corporate social action to McDonald's to address the issue of obesity among general consumers which is caused by high-calorie and spicy fast foods. The paper starts by highlight some research studies which explain how fast foods cause obesity among children and adults, and proceeds by discussing why McDonald's should take an initiative to remove this criticism by the local and international community. The paper also highlights the strategies to implement this action plan, the intended outcomes and affected stakeholders, the constituent parts of the plan, and unintended consequences or weaknesses of this initiative by the company.
The Social Problem:
Obesity is one of the major issues in health care. It gives rise to various heart diseases, diabetes, and other health related consequences (World Heart Federation). A number of research studies have been conducted by international health care agencies, NGOs, and private firms in the recent past which try to highlight the reasons and consequences of obesity in the normal life. According to a report on the workshop held at USDA's Economic Research Service, the three major reasons identified by the past research studies and surveys include fast foods and over-eating, decreasing trend in smoking, and increasing women participation in labor force (Philipson, Dai, & Helmchen, iii).
In the light of these research studies, it can be said that obesity and overweight has become more of a social issue rather than a health care problem. Fast foods are considered as one of the major causes for overweight and obesity among all age groups and genders (McBride, 2). Therefore, physicians, doctors, medical researchers, and practitioners consider the fast food restaurants as the major player in promoting non-dietary and high fat products among adults, youngsters, and adults (Stettler & Shelly, 12).
McDonald's and the Problem of Obesity:
McDonald's is an American multinational corporation and the world's largest fast food restaurant chain specialized in hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries, soft drinks, desserts, and a large variety of breakfast and fast food products (McDonald's). Since America is one of the badly hit nations by obesity and overweight during the past few decades, all local and international fast food chains operating in this region are under severe criticism by the international health care agencies, local government, and communities. The trend of obesity and overweight is also increasing in other regions of the world due to changing consumer trends towards fast food and high-calorie products. In order to prove themselves as socially and environmentally responsible corporations, all the local and international fast food chains need to promote dietary, nutritional, and low fat products (Chicago Defender, 1).
McDonald's is purely a business corporation that operates with the sole purpose of generating attractive returns on its investments. However, keeping in view the aforementioned social problem, it is an ethical as well as social responsibility of this fast food giant to show serious concern towards increasing obesity and overweight trend in the American and all other regions of the world. This paper recommends a comprehensive plan to McDonald's to solve this social issue of obesity in the most effective and efficient way.
The Proposed Action:
The criticism which fast food restaurants have been facing regarding this social issue has raised a number of questions for their sustainability and long-term future. This social issue has a direct impact on the public image of these fast food restaurants. Being the largest fast food restaurant chain, McDonald's is also supposed to take serious initiatives in this regard. Keeping in view the health consequences of obesity and overweight due to fast foods, it is strongly recommended that McDonald's should start producing and promoting hygienic, nutritional, and dietary fast food products.
Current Position of McDonald's and the New Strategy:
McDonald's has a sound financial position and worldwide recognition as a high quality fast food products manufacturer. Therefore, any type of change in its product lines or marketing campaigns will get full support from its past track record. That is, if McDonald's starts offering low-calorie and dietary fast foods in order to promote healthy eating habits, its consumers will strongly appreciate its strategy. However, McDonald's will have to speculate a few risks which can put hurdles in its way of success in this strategy. These risks include; lack of specialization in dietary foods, increase in the intensity of competition due to its entry into a totally new segment in the fast food industry, availability of high quality raw material suppliers, etc.
Intended Outcomes of the Proposed Action:
As per the proposed corporate social action plan, McDonald's will have to redesign its product lines by introducing hygienic, dietary, and low-calorie fast food products. This action will bring a number of social advantages for the worldwide community. First of all, the introduction of hygienic food products will play the biggest role in controlling obesity and overweight among general consumers which are caused by unhealthy eating habits. By eating dietary fast food products manufactured by the world's top quality brands, like McDonald's and its competitors, the consumers will be able to enjoy a life which is free from heart diseases and other health issues. The increasing trend of obesity and overweight will significantly decrease among all age groups. Secondly, the fast food chains will be able to wipe out the criticism on their business operations, products, and marketing campaigns.
A major shift in the Target Market:
By introducing more hygienic and healthier food products, McDonald's will be able to target a larger market segment, i.e. all those consumers who used to avoid salty, spicy, peppery, and high-calorie heavy foods due to health care issues. McDonald's can promote healthy and fat-free products by running awareness campaigns in its target markets. Another benefit of this action plan is a significant improvement in the company's public image as a socially and ethically conscious business entity. In this way, McDonald's can gain a competitive advantage over its competitors which are offering spicy and high-fat fast foods.
Impacts on the Needs/Interests of the Affected Stakeholders:
The key stakeholders for this important social issue are business corporations (McDonald's), consumers, society as a whole, and the government. This section describes how the newly proposed action plan will address the needs and interests of these stakeholders in different ways:
McDonald's is the most important stakeholder in this action plan. Reason being, it will have to redesign its entire product line in order to include more hygienic and fat-free products. This new action plan will impact each and every aspect of its business operations in one way or another. For example, the suppliers of the company that used to provide raw material to manufacture spicy and high-calorie food products will have to change these ingredients and raw material for non-spicy and less-fatty products (Lu-sted, 28). Similarly, the company will see a major shift in its target market. Its current target market includes only those customers that love spicy and high-calorie fast food products; like hamburgers, sandwiches, roasted chicken pieces, etc.
By adopting the new strategy, McDonald's will also be able to target all other customers that are more health conscious and avoid fast food products. However, McDonald's will have to use extensive advertisements and promotional campaigns to create awareness among these customers and introduce these less-fatty fast foods as its new product line. In implementing this strategy, McDonald's may have to face a negative consumer behavior from its existing target market. Therefore, it is recommended that it should keep on offering all the existing products and introduce the new products as an independent line. With the passage of time, it can retrench all the highly spiced products one by one and shift to healthy and hygienic foods.
In order to keep the interest of its existing target consumers intact, the company will need to introduce innovative products and flavor variations in its healthy and hygienic product lines on regular basis. At the same time, it will have to focus on developing interest among existing target consumers to eat healthy fast food products and avoid high-fat products. All these efforts will take McDonald's out of the criticism which international health organizations and agencies, doctors, physicians, and medical researchers have been doing on fast food restaurants.
Consumers are the second most important stakeholder that will take the biggest impact from this proposed action. All those consumers who love highly spiced fast food products will have to shift to more hygienic and healthier fast foods. If all the fast food restaurants are obliged by the Law and local governments to retrench their existing products and start producing healthy products according to the new action plan, the consumers will have to immediately shift their interests to these new products. It would be quite difficult for them to change their eating habits between two exactly opposite tastes. Therefore, it is anticipated that fast food restaurants will observe a significant decline in their customer base. However, the new product offerings will target a…