Julie Guest Direct Response Copywriter, Marketing Strategist, Best Selling Author

The Big Mac Belly Flop: Has McDonald’s Committed The Cardinal Marketing Sin?

by Julie Guest on November 20, 2013

Usually, when I write about McDonald’s, it’s to uphold them as a shiny example of how a business should be run – systems based, very little is left to chance and everything is scheduled and automated as much as possible (especially the marketing.)

But not this time.

Trying to shed its “Super Size” me image of a decade ago, McDonald’s shrunk its elephant sized portions and rolled out oatmeal, smoothies, salads and added an apple to all its Happy Meals.

From March to July of this this year McDonald’s also added Premium McWraps, Egg White Delight McMuffins, Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothies and new Quarter Pounders to its menu. The result? According to an independent survey McDonald’s clocked its slowest average drive through time in its 15 year history at 189.49 seconds.

My take on it?

McDonald’s have committed the cardinal marketing mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Seriously, who says “Wow! I feel like a nice healthy salad – let’s go eat at McDonald’s.” No one! They say, “I’m hungry, I’m hung over, I’m tired – I want a triple quarter pounder with cheese and an extra large fries double quick.”

McDonald’s target market is and always has been people who want fast food: with the emphasis on fast.

McDonald’s is still king of the restaurant business but its growth has lacked luster and its stock has under-performed in the last year. Unlike their competition, they haven’t had a blockbuster new product since 2003 (McGriddles) and they’ve strayed so far from their core menu that it’s barely recognizable and it’s slowing operations – from snack wraps for the millennials to raisin oatmeal for health conscious moms.

Here’s some free marketing advice for you McDonald’s: you are never ever going to be perceived as healthy. Anyone who is truly health conscious holds their breath even when they drive past. Get back to your core market of die hard fast foodies and find better, faster ways to serve their needs (maybe with a little less fat but don’t tell them that). You serve 69 million people each year – forget trying to add new customers and just focus on getting the ones you already have to come back more often. That will equate to some serious double or triple digit growth.

You’re welcome!

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