McDonald’s has done it again

McDonald's has been changing the game since 1955. Recent announcements show the brand is demonstrating real leadership again, says Bill Main FCS

Since 1955, when Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois, the company has defined the fast food segment in the USA and, later, the world. The company has always been the ultimate trend-setter, reading the emerging consumer psyche with both clarity and prescience.

In the early 1970s marketing visionary, and then-director of marketing, Tom Feltenstein suggested and pioneered the breakfast day offering for McDonald’s. Ronald McDonald followed, as did the company recognising the importance of a long-term strategy built around children, and “giving back” in philanthropic terms.

McDonald’s defines the spirit and soul of American foodservice in virtually every way, and serious foodservice practitioners should take note: they have done it again in 2015.

I’m speaking of offering breakfast in an all-day format, as well as featuring “cage free” eggs over the next 10 years in its nearly 16,000 restaurants in the US and Canada. McDonald’s long-time relationship with Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, a family-owned company in Michigan, highlights and underscores its “localised” roots and the emerging emphasis on responsibly-sourced food in their supply chain.

Once again, McDonald’s has correctly “read the tea leaves” and the needs and desires of the emerging Millennial generation, the most powerful wave of consumers since the post-WWII Bay Boomers of the 1940s and 1950s. Millennials care about the type of food they eat, and how they express their consumer preferences in the marketplace.

The Millennial generation is the first wave of consumers that ‘snacks’, preferring six smaller meals a day over the conventional breakfast, lunch and dinner. Indeed, McDonald’s brought life and action to its historical marketing slogan, “Have it your way.” Enjoying an Egg McMuffin at 4pm – not possible until now – makes the case as a reflection of Millennial multi-meal preferences. And McCafé, McDonald’s initiative to establish an attractive, branded coffee alternative to Starbucks, is another example of the desire to attract Millennials.

Whether it’s offering breakfast all day, or cage-free eggs to appeal to the Millennial generation, or branded coffee products, McDonald’s is again demonstrating real leadership in keeping their brand attuned to its consumers’ discretionary spending predispositions. And frankly, for an old baby boomer like me, I like the afternoon breakfast option and a better-quality cup of coffee.

In addition, healthier alternatives, recognition of the sanctity of the environment, and philanthropic causes like Ronald McDonald’s House for sick kids and their families – in total – will inspire me to visit McDonald’s more frequently. That’s what ‘re-branding’ is all about. Kudos to the Golden Arches.

Tucker W. ‘Bill’ Main FCSI, CSP

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