Pi Attitude Zone: Flexibility

McDonalds, Fast-Food Chameleon

The writer remembers a French client once asking him what he would like for lunch, and replying “Oh, anything, it really doesn’t matter”.  “Quoi?  But… mon cher, it’s food !!!  You put it in your mouth !!!”, came the horrified rejoinder.  It was a reminder that we ignore local tastes and customs at our peril.

Two previous Pi blogposts have talked about adapting brand offerings to local market conditions:  [How “MacDo” Put the French into French Fries];   and then [KFC Adapts to Africa …Again and Again].  This third piece makes it a triptych, examining how varied and different branded fast-food offerings can get.

The examples below come from the world’s largest fast-food company. McDonalds has a presence in 119 markets across all six inhabited continents.

The company used to be considered a byword for “American marketing imperialism”.  In the USA, the  McDonalds chain’s founder Ray Croc instituted a magic list of ingredients and preparation techniques that were adhered to in every restaurant.  It was once assumed that the same rigid, unchanging formula would be forced on every country and culture in the world, as McDonalds expanded globally. 

Didn’t really happen that way.  The two Pi blogposts tagged above would suggest that rigid standardization is not necessarily a successful way to run an international fast-food empire.  Here are some examples of popular dishes offered under the sign of the “Golden Arches” in different corners of the world:

Australia: Pasta Zoo, cheese and vegetable ravioli shaped like little animals.  (The little joeys reckon they’re just beaut…)

India: The McAloo Tikki, a potato veggie-burger that respects the Hindu inderdict on eating beef

Italy: Spinach and parmesan Cheese McNuggets.  Delizioso!

Japan: The EBI Filet-O, whole shrimp embedded in a bread dough puff and served on a Big Mac bun

Mexico:  McMolletes, English muffins topped with refried beans, American white cheese and Mexican salsa.  (Now that’s international!)

Middle-East: The McArabia, two beef or chicken patties in pita bread, with salad and tahini sauce

Singapore: Chicken SingaPorridge, a moist cup of rice with chicken, onions, chili and ginger -- eaten with chopsticks or a spork

Spain: Gazpacho soup in a carton.  (And why not, ¿por favor?)

McDonalds has proven itself something of a cultural chameleon.  And as Pi knows, adaptability rules!

Zone: Flexibility Country: Multiple Geographies Product – Consumer Products