Fast Food Giant McDonald’s is a classic example of those brands that have successfully scaled their businesses with well-thought-out marketing strategies and long-term game plans.
It’s one of the largest retail chains that started out as a humble hamburger stand and now serves in over a hundred countries, generating around $20 billion in revenue annually.
What tactics did Mcdonald’s employ to turn a small restaurant into a multinational empire?
How did it build such a powerful brand image?
In this article, I am going to share its eight marketing strategies to help you uncover its business secrets.
Let’s get started.
1. Brand Identity
Mcdonald’s brand identity is one of the key factors behind its global success. It seamlessly operates its chain all over the world because people are familiar with it and already know what they’ll expect from it.
This level of trust and dependability is the result of its strategic brand positioning and consistent theme.
Mcdonald’s has created a certain image in its audience’s mind to connect with them on a deeper level. It deliberately adds emotional elements in its advertising to position itself as a family-oriented brand.
Look at its copywriting and commercials.
From the “I am loving it” slogan, its distinct mascot, to its product packages, all emphasize happiness, taste, and community.
Its consistent theme in all its branding further strengthens its identity.
No matter which branch you visit, you’ll find the distinct golden arches, red boxes, and a similar friendly atmosphere in all its franchises.
The consistency makes its restaurants recognizable and provides a sense of comfort to its audience.
Your brand identity gives a face to your company. It makes you authentic, credible, and unforgettable.
It also allows you to personalize your services and offer a unique shopping experience to your customers.
2. Price Strategy
Mcdonald’s main target market consists of middle to lower-income groups. Since this customer segment has low purchasing power, they tend to gravitate towards the restaurant that offers cheaper options.
While Mcdonald’s meals are inexpensive, so do any other fast-food brand.
How does it attract customers, then?
It uses psychological pricing strategies to make them appear even more inviting.
If you ever plan to go over to the restaurant next time, check out its entire menu.
You’d notice, Mcdonald’s almost always displays features deals for its customers, irrespective of the occasion.
This is its bundle discount sales technique to incite impulse purchase and upsell its low-demand items at the same time.
So, when people have the option to buy a Big Mac and drink for $5 or take a combo meal with fries for $6, they most likely would prefer the latter.
There is one other psychological trick McDonald’s frequently uses in its price strategy.
It rates its item in decimals instead of the whole number.
The method is based on the idea that people will perceive the item as inexpensive if you tag it as $3.90 instead of $4. While technically, there never is much difference between the two, it works all the same.
Psychological pricing strategy provokes an emotional response from your potential buyers and influences their buying decision.
You can use it to increase your product appeal and drive customer satisfaction.
3. Clear Value Proposition
Another thing that helps McDonald’s win more sales is its clear value proposition.
VP is a summarization of the benefits your product offers to your buyers. It tells your audience what makes you a better option and why they should choose you over your competitor.
McDonald’s is one among many that provide low-priced, high-quality fast food. To increase its product value, it instead focuses on its strength—which is convenience and comfort.
With drive-thru, pick up, McDelivery, and mobile app, it has made it easier for its customers to place their order without waiting in line. It also uses third-party services like Uber Eats and free delivery feature to further facilitate the buyers.
With the ease of ordering, Mcdonald’s attract tons of customers and generate a high volume of sales.
People only buy items that offer them value. The benefits they get from your product are what drives them to come back for more.
Use that to your advantage and create a clear value proposition. It will help you make your products more appealing to your audience, drawing them towards your brand.
4. Personalized Experience
Mcdonald’s caters to a diverse market.
To target each segment, it launches several sales promos designed to attract certain individuals.
Take its Wi-Fi services.
It offers free Wi-Fi in its restaurant to lure in college graduates. Students frequently consume burgers, and by providing free internet service, Mcdonald’s makes sure they visit its restaurant every time.
Similarly, it provides a free app for the job-going individuals who prefer takeout to save their time.
These tailored techniques allow Mcdonald’s to target different market segments and retain its buyers.
In addition, it helps it to capture new markets and nurture relationships. The happy meal is a classic example of it.
Mcdonald’s brothers, in 1979, launched the happy meal initially to improve the family experience and engage kids.
It later became one of the most popular products that many have attempted to replicate since then.
Personalization helps you understand your target market preference and devise your strategies around it.
With it, you can improve your customer experience in the short term and strengthen your relationships in the long run.
5. Distribution Strategy
Mcdonald’s has, in its life, employed two growth strategies that became the turning point for the brand, leading it to where it’s today.
One was introducing a happy meal as mentioned above, and another was pursuing franchising.
Franchising was McDonald’s first successful expansion decision that kick-started its growth and built its brand outside its business territory. It helped Mcdonald’s cater to a diverse market and made it easier for it to launch lucrative services like a 24-hour open door option.
It has worked so well, nearly 93% of its restaurants are operated by independent franchisers today.
It now not only makes most of the money from its franchises, but also gathers deep customer insights on its foreign target market to introduce new flavors.
Franchising is a distribution method in which companies grant product selling rights to another party for profit cuts or royalty. It increases your brand awareness, allowing you to reach areas you can’t typically access due to limited resources.
Large enterprises frequently go for franchising for this very reason. With it, you can scale your business without incurring risks that usually come with expansion.
6. Keeping up with Consumer Needs
Mcdonald’s has been around for 66 years, during which, it has faced tons of challenges often associated with changing trends. But it has always bounced back from it because of its readiness to upgrade its strategies to meet the ever-changing consumer demands.
For instance, in the mid-nineties, when take-out services were an emerging trend, the McDonald’s brothers redesigned their restaurant to include a drive-thru in their restaurant.
As Post-war altered consuming habits, it focused on fast service to accommodate customers accustomed to instant meals.
When coffee trends bloomed, it launched McCafe to target a new market.
As people began to adopt a healthy lifestyle, it introduced salad and a healthy menu.
Mcdonald’s has, over the years, made several changes to keep up with its consumer’s needs. It leverages the current trends and social movements to connect with its prospects and convert them into paying customers.
It is how it stays at the top and maintains its position.
People’s shopping behavior often changes with the trend.
By keeping pace with their expectations, you can forecast your audience preference and bring a fresh idea to retain your customers. It will help you withstand the transition period and sustain your business.
7. Diverse Menu
Mcdonald’s matches its menu items with the geographical location and people’s taste.
What it serves in New York is entirely different from what its Singapore franchise offers to its customers. Even within the same country, its special deals and menu vary according to where it’s situated.
Do you know why?
Adapting its menu to local taste allows Mcdonald’s to cater to a diverse market.
A versatile menu is part of its globalization strategy that involves offering both standard products and extra items to grab the attention of local customers. Through it, Mcdonald’s delivers a consistent experience worldwide and at the same time attracts the locals.
It also serves another purpose.
By offering different menus, it publicly declares its support for cultural diversity to strengthen its global image.
Adapting your strategy to your target market’s lifestyle is critical in ensuring the success of your business expansion.
It helps you deliver a clear brand message without misinterpreting people’s preferences or making cultural blunders.
McDonald’s shares its brand values globally, mainly through its product features. But you can replicate the same tactic in your digital campaigns as well.
8. Transparent Marketing
As a fast-food chain, Mcdonald’s often encounters controversies spurred by environmental communities, rival companies, and unsatisfied customers.
And every time a rumor spread, whether real or constructed, it negatively hits its sales.
To maintain goodwill, it focuses on business transparency and periodically runs awareness campaigns.
Its expired food scandal in China is a popular example. In 2014, Mcdonald’s came under fire when its supply chain was suspected of delivering substandard meat.
The crisis caused such a ripple effect it hit its sales in Japan, Russia, and other regions consequently.
To build back its image, it launched several awareness campaigns like #Goodtoknow, and “Our Food, Your Questions” to show the sourcing and processing of its products.
Its Track My Macca’s virtual reality app is also a good example of how it capitalizes on business transparency to settle people’s concerns about its products.
Transparent marketing involves deliberately releasing the internal information of your company to the public.
It improves your reputation by portraying you as a genuine and trustworthy brand.
Almost 85% of people would stay loyal to you during a crisis if you’re open in your communication and readily respond to public concerns.
If I sum up Mcdonald’s marketing strategy, I would say its entire model revolves around its mission statement—to make delicious feel-good moments easy for everyone.
Think about it.
It offers multiple delivery options to provide quick service.
It has franchises to meet consumer demands. It shares consistent branding and a clean restaurant layout to make people comfortable.
Every touchpoint it creates in its marketing funnel is focused on achieving its company’s mission.
This is the secret behind McDonald’s massive success.