McDonald’s is the world’s largest restaurant chain, with 37,855 restaurants serving over 69 million customers daily in over a hundred countries worldwide . Short time-to-serve, attractive pricing and offers, adapting to local tastes and preferences in different countries, and the traditional McDonald’s Happy Meal have been some of the prominent strategies of the chain that have stood the test of time. They understand the desire of their consumers and keep upgrading and evolving, not just for the consumers but for the benefit of environment as well.
Two British children,aged 7 and 10 have, launched a petition stating that the plastic toys that come with McDonald’s Happy Meal cannot be recycled and often end up being discarded. This petition has already garnered 325,000 petitions . This movement gives a new direction to the firm in a constructive manner. Amidst growing environmental concerns, the fast food chain is also trying to live up to the expectations for minimum or no disturbance to nature. In the past, it has replaced plastic straws and cups with paper ones. Now the focus has shifted towards plastic toys given away by McDonald’s as a part of its Happy Meal packs and its hazardous effect on the environment.
McDonald’s can now explore new avenues such as “Sweet Edible Toys” of different flavors, which children can enjoy playing with, and would be not only be harmless but also serve as a neat dessert idea after a scrumptious Happy Meal. This would curb the menace of plastic pollution and, at the same time, would entice more kids to ask for a Happy Meal at an outlet. Introducing new variants of these toys with trending animated movie and comic book characters would help the brand and the product build and maintain its clout among its young customers.
Another option they can explore would be personalized happy meal boxes. Young patrons can have their own pictures or personal messages printed on the biodegradable paper boxes used to pack Happy Meals. Binding this with customer-driven social media campaigns for user-generated content can turn out to be a cost-effective marketing strategy and drive more customers to go “I’m Lovin’ It!” Social acceptance and bragging rights are some of the top priorities of the digitally-enabled youth worldwide. Engaging customers in content co-creation would be mutually beneficial for the customers as well as the brand.
The fast-food giant has started taking all possible steps to reduce the harm caused to the environment by its activities. By 2025, McDonald’s plans to use renewable, recyclable and certified materials in all kinds of packaging . “With great power comes great responsibility”, and McDonald’s is very well cognizant of this fact. To survive in the long run, it is imperative for the company to be sensible enough in taking rational decisions which is in-line with the expectation and need of the society as a whole.
Children these days need not always be enticed with physical incentives such as toys and the likes. Proliferation of technology and increase use of personal devices by younger demographics have opened up doorways to new ideas for types of incentives. A brand like McDonald’s can bring about a revolution and transform itself into an environmentally-responsible brand by going eco friendly or by going digital, or both. This is where we would let the creative heads at McDonald’s’ marketing fraternity do the thinking.
Written by: Ranjeeta Gupta – PGPM “Spartan” Class of 2020
Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon