Marketing Channels and Methods -- the New Svelte Shape of McDonald's
Objectives & Mission Statement
Although McDonald's latest advertising slogan, as proclaimed on its 2005 website, is "I'm lovin' it," (McDonald's Official Website, 2005), shareholders in the fast food company have not be equally enamored of its current stock performance and plummeting sales. (The Rogue Investor, 2005) Thus, the objectives of the new McDonald's marketing campaign must be to undo some of the economic and public relations damage done to the company by the negative press generated by the success of Morgan Spurlock's film 'Supersize Me.' Over the course of the year, McDonald's wishes to gain a greater percentage of the revenue of the current fast food market than its most prominent burger-oriented competitors Wendy's and Burger King. McDonald's also wishes to gain some of the type of positive media as generated by the sandwich chain Subway. The Subway Diet has now become a buzzword for the ability to lose weight by eating moderate portions of healthy fast food. Yet McDonalds has been the target of a recent flood of lawsuits blaming the fast food giant for the nation's widespread obesity. (News Target, 2004)
McDonald's tried to combat the negative publicity of the Spurlock's film by eliminating its 'Super Sized' menu. This public relations menu shift was problematic, as it seems as if the company was giving less food for the same amount of money, and thus less value to the fast food consumers coming to McDonald's for an inexpensive as well as a familiar-tasting meal. Furthermore the company's decision to de-supersize after "Supersize Me" seemed calculated rather than concerned about consumer's health. In contrast to these public relations ploys, one woman, completely on her own free will named Merab Morgan lost thirty-seven pounds on a self-designed McDonald's diet, just as Morgan Spurlock, the director of "Supersize Me," gained weight and lost overall bodily fitness on his 4,000 calorie a day high fat diet. Morgan's decision to do so was from personal health and taste, not out of the desire to help McDonald's or to make a film. Thus, a new marketing campaign that adopts this ordinary housewife's accomplishment into its use of a real story to generate revenue can be used to show that simply by making different choices at the same establishment, one can achieve different fitness goals -- something that is true of a grocery store as well as an inexpensive fast food establishment. Morgan's selection of "a combo consisting of a Quarter Pounder, side salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing and large unsweetened iced tea," with less than 500 calories and roughly 20 grams of fat," stands in stark contrast to Spurlock's choices (Bauman, 2005). The new Mission Statement of McDonald's is simple -- eat right, eat well at McDonald's. The measurable success of the short-term campaign can be seen in the participation of the component games, whereby consumers will answer nutritional questions about McDonald's foods and other food questions, in return for winning free foods the next time they visit the restaurant.
A consumer's need, to say nothing of a human need, is defined as "a state of felt deprivation in a person" (Kotler, Chandler, Gibbs, & McColl 1999, p. 4) The most basic human needs are for food, clothing, warmth, and safety. Less physically oriented needs may be classified as psychological, such as the need to feel loved, to feel successful, or social, such as to feel a sense of belonging. Thus, by addressing a wide array of consumer needs, a more effective marketing campaign may be deployed. The consumer needs McDonald's addresses currently, stressing that consumers are 'loving' McDonald's food simply addresses need for sustenance. (McDonald's Website, 2005) This is a need fairly low upon the hierarchy of needs as delineated by Abraham Maslow. Maslow's needs are depicted as a pyramid order from highest to lowest, including physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization needs. (Daft 1997, p. 530) (Perhaps the fact 'I'm lovin' it comes from a popular teen song touches tangentially upon some sense of belonging-ness.) The desire to lose weight touches upon the need for safety in the form of health concerns, as well as belongingness in terms of cultivating a more attractive appearance. It also increases belongingness by encouraging consumers to come more frequently to the store, participating in the McDonald's positive atmosphere, hanging out with friends, and thus validates their sense of personal esteem, of making positive health and social choices and connections, and more able to deploy themselves through self-actualization into the world -- by reaching a goal of weight loss. Merab Morgan's image as an ordinary suburban housewife also is an affirmation of the realistic nature of the goal, as well as its life changing aspect.
Of course, McDonald's is not the only fast food company on the market today. McDonald's must not simply address the needs and wants of the McDonald's consumer. It must also address the external or social influences created by McDonald's competitors such as Wendy's and Burger King. (Perreault & McCarthy 2000, p. 123) Burger King has recently disregarded conventional wisdom in the industry by deploying bigger and bigger burgers and other menu items, such as its new omelet sandwich. (Burger King Official Website, 2005) Wendy's has attempted to expand its image beyond a mere 'Burger Joint' by offering fruit and salads, thus confusing its image with Subway, a non-burger competitor. McDonald's new campaign allows it to retain its image as a fun place to have hamburgers, but in a healthy way, thus avoiding the excesses of Burger King, which simply promises consumers that it will do it 'their way,' even if their ways are currently detrimental to their health, while avoiding the image-diluting campaign of Wendy's, which attempts to encroach into the sandwich market, yet still retaining burgers as its core product -- a prescription for disaster for McDonald's, a company which is branded as the Golden Arches of French Fries and the land of the Hamburgler. (McDonald's, Official Website, 2005)
Today, there is a growing awareness that the food human beings eat on a daily basis affects long-term health. Americans do not want to sacrifice taste to eat right. Americans want to enjoy their favorite fast foods in a way that combines the basic tenets of a healthy diet: balance, variety and moderation. By following a pattern of moderate, balanced consumption at McDonald's people who use McDonald's products all over the world can continue to eat their favorite fast foods, even if they are high in fat, salt or sugars, by moderating their portion size and frequency. With Merab Morgan as living proof of the results, consumers' interest in a fast food diet and health should garner a fairly high level of interest. (Bauman, 2005)
McDonald's new 'product' will be the Merab Morgan personal diet, and to facilitate this, the McDonald's company throughout the course of the year will give coupons for return visits, rather than stress larger and larger meals during singular visits. This is a realistic goal, given that it satisfies customer's desires for value in a positive fashion. (Bauman, 2005) It is attainable, given that customers still love McDonald's food, and that McDonald's will continue to provide value and service to its customers. Also, it is well timed, given that consumers are working more hours, are increasingly beset by high expenses such as the price of fuel, and are eating more meals outside the home. It addresses thus physical, 'safety' (economic budgeting), needs, while also provides the psychological, social, and self-actualizing reinforcement of choosing to lose weight without feeling deprived. (Daft, 1997)
The diet service/'product' is innovative, because it shows that with the correct management, even food that tastes good can be healthy -- it is how one eats as well as what one eats that results in weight loss. Morgan's strategy adapts portion control as its core much Weight Watchers, with McDonald's 'fun' format that the entire family can take part in -- incorporating promotional games about nutrition reinforces this component. Like Jenny Craig, the new diet strategy for the fast food chain stresses the value of prepackaged food for convenience and portion control, but not food that is self-consciously diet food. Thus it will embrace the best of McDonald's old image, but not Rather than sell fruit and salads and veggie burgers like its competitor Wendy's, which tends to cause consumers to ask 'can't I cut up an apple at home for less money than 4.99 for a salad,' or increasing its stress upon larger meals, like Burger King (Official Website, 2005)
McDonald's new 'spin' portion control, eliminating the larger items from its menu, targeting lesser immediate consumption, and focusing on encouraging returning customer visits, will be a unique strategy for a fast food company, but one which incorporates sound diet nutrition of 'calories in balanced with calories expended.' People can still diet beneath the Golden Arches stresses that it provides a unique service, that of burgers, but through its new…