Industry Updates

I’m Loving It – The Success Behind the McDonald’s Brand

29 Sep 2011

The first McDonald’s restaurant was opened in South Africa on 11th November 1995. Their constant evolvement has ensured they are a highly recognisable iconic global brand that is characterised by contemporary and fun.

Interestingly enough, South Africa is one of the most successful markets in McDonald’s international history.

The McDonald’s franchise differentiates itself quite strongly from other fast food establishments by looking at fulfilling the different needs of each member of the family according to the time of the day and their specific requirements,” says Sechaba Motsieloa, Marketing Director of McDonald’s South Africa who is a classical marketer and a communications professional with 13 years experience in global FMCG organisations.

The McDonald’s iconic products have stood the test of time essentially offering good value and service in their restaurants.

What does it take?
“The marketing of the McDonald’s franchise revolves around constantly challenging ourselves about meeting the needs of our customers,” says Motsieloa. In order for this type of marketing to work, ongoing research is conducted that informs McDonald’s of long term trends based on brand health and matrixes.

New research is also commissioned whenever key initiatives like the launch of a new product takes place.

“We leverage research information from other McDonald’s markets globally for the benefit of the local market,” adds Sechaba. “In the food business, TV still plays a big part in the marketing mix.

We typically say people eat with their eyes first and operate according to McDonald’s global standards leveraging the McDonald’s system to ensure that we are staying abreast of the latest and greatest developments such as the merchandising of food items on our menu boards as an example.

Our training is robust and ensures that we have the best trained people working in the business,” adds Sechaba.

What’s hot on the menu?
At present, the most popular sellers are the Big Mac, Grilled Chicken Fold Over, Cheese Burger, the Egg Mcmuffin, premium roast coffee and the world famous French fries.

Sechaba mentions how consumers are very much aware of which products they choose to be part of their meal solution. “For a consumer that eats three meals a day, we are a meal destination for one of those times,” says Motsieloa.

New product innovations
Over the last few years, McDonald’s has introduced new products such as their premium coffee,  the popular chicken salad and the crispy chicken burger deluxe that are in line with changing trends in Quick Service Restaurants. Due to the strong value proposition that McDonald’s offers with their extra value meals (burger, fries and drink) it has become easier to be accessible to families.

“The ‘Golden Arches’ are differentiated in the market place and our business philosophy revolves around quality, service, cleanliness and value. We leverage consumer insights to package “value” the way our customers define it.

Hence, the popularity of our Extra Value Meals such as the McValue lunch and Happy Meals,” says Sechaba. “There is also a huge opportunity to grow both our chicken and coffee offering and furthermore, over 70% of our restaurants are now open 24/7 which gives us a competitive advantage.”

In every fast food establishment there are growing challenges and opportunities and Sechaba mentions how when consumers have less disposable income, there is a noticeable shift in the product mix purchased, however it is not a case of exiting the category.

Strategic Communication
All communications are geared towards what interests the customer as they hold the power. “Our brand fits in with our customer’s lifestyles and we have been able to evolve with them over time. The legislative changes have challenged all brands to comply and we are fortunate in that we lead the industry in most instances in this regard. Our primary focus continues to be on our customers to ensure that we offer meal solutions that meet their needs,” concludes Sechaba.

Customer Loyalty
We are in a fortunate position in that we control the retail part of our business - the restaurants. Perhaps the ultimate test is the ‘last visit satisfaction’ measure and our ability to deliver on the brand promise at restaurant level. 

This has a huge impact on what they tell other people and has a bearing on their decision the next time they want to use a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR).

Brand Sponsor
“McDonald’s was the official sponsor and restaurant of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and we were able to run consumer promotions linked to this worldwide event.

McDonald’s also held the sole and exclusive rights to the McDonald’s Player Escort Program where we offered the opportunity to 1 274 children to walk hand in hand with soccer stars as they entered the pitch.  We currently sponsor the McDonald’s Under 14 Schools League,” says Sechaba.

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