Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Perfect Problem For McDonald's

Is McDonald's Losing That Lovin' Feeling?

That was the peculiar headline that jumped off the pages of the latest AdAge this week. The article debates whether McDonald's has a problem with its brand perception. Despite McDonald's impressive same-store sales increase of 5.6 percent in 2011 from 2010, the article cites people close to the company who believe trying times lie ahead if the fast feeder doesn't do something to address the perceptions about the quality of the food, where it comes from and the nutritional value of it.

McDonald's is currently addressing these issues in their latest advertising which launched in January and features the hearty, blue-collar farmers who grow the ingredients that will eventually get passed across the counters at McDonald's restaurants.

I use the term eventually because like a lot of consumers, I understand that a lot will happen to the potato once it leaves the farm and becomes a french fry. So a couple of couple of feel-good ads with wholesome ingredients will not change the perception of what McDonald's truly is - a meal which is really cheap and really convenient - but not as nutritious as the ingredients alone.
It's focus on serving really cheap food quickly and being in the places people most need them is how McDonald's has been able to serve billions and billions of burgers as well as increase sales 5.6 percent in 2011. It has always understood what it truly was.

That's summed up best in the article by Jeff Davis, president of Sandelman & Associates, a market-research firm specializing in food-service businesses, said that "McDonald's rates high in variety, indulgence, affordability, kid appeal and convenience. But the flip side to those results is that the chain rates weak on taste, quality, healthfulness and friendliness."

People will not believe food is gourmet if it's cheap. And if it's gourmet, they won't view it as affordable. Even your as powerful as McDonald's, you still cannot change this.

That's the obvious trade-off that marketers must accept - and until this point McDonald's has done. The expression "you cannot have your cake and eat it too" applies to the marketing profession more than any other. However, this AdAge article once again proves that there will always be those marketers who will try.

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