McDonalds Article

WARM UP QUESTION: What is something that the United States
sells to other countries? (Full Sentence)
What is something your best friend does for you?
by Colin Shaw on April 9, 2014
Globalization is a reality for more organizations. Moving your organization to a global market is
a big step with many strategic considerations.
But one area that I would hope that does not get overlooked in the strategic planning for a global
expansion is customer experience. Keeping a one-size-fits-all approach to customer experience is
a shortsighted strategy that can have enormous ramifications to your bottom line.
There is a famous story often told in Introduction to Marketing classes in the States that talk
about a cultural miss for Detroit auto-maker, Chevrolet. They were launching the Chevy Nova in
Mexico. They spent millions on marketing the car to disappointing results. The reason was
simple: the name.
In Spanish, “no va” means “no go”…hardly the message you want for your car. This cautionary
tale sets up the concept that you must know your audience. And this is true if you are talking
about Paris, Texas, or Paris, France.
Different countries have different cultures. So it stands to reason that what is acceptable in one
country is not acceptable everywhere. For example in a restaurant in England it is considered
rude for a waiter to take only one person’s plate from the table when they have finished their
meal. Instead, waiters wait for everyone to finish. In the US, however, that is the opposite with
shift leaders everywhere telling their teams to clear away the empties about as soon as the diner
drops their utensil.
But if there are differences about what is acceptable, there are also differences about what is
expected as well. These differences can end up costing you money. Take the speed of deliveries
as an example. If we were to ask what the expectations on delivery of a product, the answer you
get in Kenya would be quite different from the one you get in the US. Therefore if you are a
global company and just offer one standard for delivery speed, you could be adding costs
needlessly to your operations by over delivering in other countries outside the US.
Some companies have adapted globally quite well. Take McDonalds for starters. They have
adapted to global markets extremely well. They have more than 34,000 restaurants worldwide, in
118 different countries and serving nearly 69 million people each day. They know a thing or two
about how to appeal to different cultures.
This success comes from an attention to what will work in a country and what won’t. This was
apparent in their decision to introduce a vegetarian Big Mac last year in the Sikh holy city of
Amritsar and also in a city home to the Hindu shrine of Vaishno Davi called Katra. Both cities
are located in India, a country that already serves chicken big macs in their other 250 stores.
According to the McDonald’s spokesman, this move for vegetarian restaurants makes a lot of
sense for these famous pilgrimage sites.
McDonalds has a long tradition of adapting to the needs of global markets. Much of the growth
of McDonalds in the 90s occurred outside of the states. They did this by offering kosher burgers
in an Israeli suburb of Jerusalem and “Halal” menus that complied with Islamic food preparation
in Arab Countries. Then, of course they opened the McSki-Thru restaurant in Lindvallen, a ski
and snowboard community. McDonalds showed remarkable flexibility to local food preferences
and preparation customs.
It’s slightly ironic that a company that built its reputation on serving standard fare no matter
where you were when you ate at one has built its global brand on adapting to local cultures. So
literally, if McDonalds can do it, any company can!
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