Sunday, July 14, 2013

Behind The McScene

I am currently sitting in a McDonald's at the SeaTac Airport (which, by the way, I usually loathe but since I have traveled less than normal lately it has grown on me a bit). It has been a really rough week and a Happy Meal seemed like just about the only thing I could stomach at the moment. So, while I sit here enjoying my McNuggets and giggling at how tiny the fry holder is (rough week= slightly delirious, I suppose) I look around at this surprising chic restaurant and start to think, McDonald's has transformed quite a bit as a business in the past year or so. Then, I remember what gave me the idea for a Happy Meal in the first place- Bloomberg Businessweek's cover had a slightly frightening photo of Ronald McDonald wrapped up as a McWrap.

Have you ever taken the time to think about how much time and thought goes into a business idea? If you are a business student like me the answer is probably, "Duh, we had to to pass pretty much every class we took." But for those of you that have not, I promise it is really interesting.

Take the McWrap: you probably saw commercials and billboards then boom, it was on the menu. You might have tried it or thought about it or if you were me you may have tried to order a snack wrap because you weren't that hungry and then let a McDonald's worker talk you into the "even more delicious" McWrap that ended up being 3 times bigger than what you wanted. During any of that did you happen to think, "Wow, I bet it took them 2 years to think through that idea"? Because apparently, it did. The article in Bloomberg Businessweek lays out the whole process of McDonald's strategy to reposition themselves to target their lowest consumer group (18 to 32 year olds) and to compete with other companies that are positioned as more "fresh" than they are (ie. Five Guys and Chipotle).

Did you know that the idea originated from Czech Republic McDonald's Chicken RollUps and Poland McDonald's tortilla "sandwiches"? Or that the cardboard container idea came from the McDonald's in Australia? Or that the cardboard container was strategically created to fit in the standard cup holder because 65% of McDonald's customers order at the drive-through?  Also, if a McWrap is made correctly it should take 60 seconds to assemble and should have lettuce and chicken sticking slightly out the top so you can see just how fresh it is. Ideas like an Asian wrap, goat cheese, and shrimp were all thrown out of the mix for being too niche for the whole of America. I told you it was interesting!

The people at McDonald's toss and turned and pulled their hair for 2 years to perfect this idea. Then it finally gets to us where we see an ad and think, "Interesting, a new thing at McDonald's. I'll have to check that out sometime." But if they do it right and enough people actually do check it out, they make billions.

And now it's go time on my vacation! Ta ta, Washington!


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