These restaurants in particular are a threat to McDonalds -- a chain like Subway has a menu better suited for older customers. There are other threats as well, such as eroding sources of wealth. As people retire, their budgets become more fixed. If they rely on pensions from their employers, many of those shifting from traditional defined-benefit plans to defined-contribution plans. Thus, more seniors are going to rely on the stock market or bond markets for their wealth. This threatens their financial security, and therefore their ability to buy McDonalds. Fortunately, the baby boomer generation picked a good time to be born, and many have wealth locked up in their homes, or accumulated from long careers in world where one could move straight from undergrad into a management job, with no student loans. This generation is fairly well off, relative to just about any other. However, those that rely on government for pensions are at risk because of the budget situation. Social security is one of the biggest entitlement programs. While seniors form a large voting block and government is unlikely to make major cuts to social security while the baby boomers remain a strong voting block, this depends on how desperate the budget situation becomes.
In order to attract more senior customers, it is recommended that McDonald's implement the following marketing plan. There are two key product elements. The first is the menu, which should be updated to include more foods that appeal to seniors. Heavy, greasy meals lose their appeal, and are considered unhealthy, but with some senior-specific menus, McDonalds can increase its appeal. In addition, special senior's pricing much like what McDonalds already does with children could draw in more customers with fixed incomes. Lastly, the service element is critical. McDonald's does make an effort to train its staff about customer service, but high turnover and the grueling nature of the job sometimes makes for service deficiencies. It is recommended that McDonalds eliminate these, because older seniors in particular value the human attachment that comes with social interaction, even at a fast food restaurant. Good customer service and personal attention are just so much more important to seniors than to younger customers. McDonald's can even hire some seniors to work day shifts, in order to create a more senior-friendly service environment.
Price. As noted, special pricing for seniors is a good way to attract them. Set prices for meals will help seniors who are on fixed incomes to budget McDonald's as a treat, and will send a message to seniors that their business is welcome at McDonald's. Ideas like a coffee club or loyalty program could bring in seniors during slower periods like the middle of the afternoon, and create loyal customers.
Place: Without question, accessibility is an issue for seniors, and this is something that my local McDonalds at least needs to work on. Not only does the restaurant need to be wheelchair accessible, but there needs to be some accommodation in the seating and the washrooms for mobility-impaired customers as well. If there is a way that seniors can avoid standing in long lines, that will also attract more of their business. If a coffee club or similar program is implemented, allowing a section of the store for seniors to meet and gather is another idea that would create a more open and encouraging environment, free from the sensory distractions of other parts of the restaurant.
Promotion: None of these initiatives will be much use unless the seniors know about them. It is recommended therefore that McDonalds specifically promotes itself to seniors in its advertising campaigns. In addition, local newspapers and radio can be used in order to ensure that seniors are aware of the changes at McDonalds. Also, because tomorrow's seniors are already today's customers the restaurant needs to be on top of that, and promote to the 50-somethings today that they are perfectly welcome to continue coming to McDonalds as they age.
This calls attention to in-store promotion, for example handing out coupons, increasing signage to make customers aware of the new initiatives, and just generally creating a culture that continues to meet the needs of customers as they age, and head for retirement.
Elliott, S. (2009). The older audience is looking better than ever. New York Times. In possession of…