McDonald's voluntarily removed their Step It! activity bands from the Happy Meal because of skin irritation. No pain, no gain, right? Wrong. That might just be the brand strategy gods having an intervention with the Golden Arches.
Good health will always be a tough sell for McDonald's. In fairness, there is more pressure to change on them than most, since they are established fast food leader. However, the more they push that position, the more consumers will recall what they already know; that McDonald's is just greasy fast food. Whether their brand managers like it or not, that is the perception and changing it will be next to impossible.
But McDonald's can be relevant to the desires of the modern consumer without trying to position itself as the Whole Foods of fast food. Below are a few key drivers of the modern consumer that suit McDonald's quite well.
Convenience - time starved consumers want a place that can give them a few minutes back. What if each order came with an exact time that it took to prep and serve?
Value - people want good value for their dollar. That is never going to change.
Local - McDonald's is a local in millions of communities across the world. Local doesn't have to be food sourcing.
Foodie - people love food and McDonald's is a huge part of American food culture. A monthly rotation of special menu items could keep that menu and interest in the brand fresh.
The place for McDonald's to convince consumers of its health value is not in its advertising... marketing promotion, branded content and all the rest of it. Reserve that for only what consumers are already convinced of.
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