McDonald’s Brand Struggle

McDonald’s is one of the most recognizable names in the world. Starting out as a simple hamburger joint, the chain now boasts more than 36,000 restaurants and serves approximately 69 million customers daily around the world. It has been tempting customers with Happy Meals, Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets, and other favorites for over 60 years. Known for its fast service and low cost meals, McDonald’s often tops the list of most successful fast food restaurants. However, McDonald’s is now experiencing competition like it never has before.

For the first time in a decade, McDonald’s experienced a decline in sales in 2014. For 2015, the chain continued to struggle to increase sales. While the third quarter and fourth quarters of 2015 show a slight increase in sales, the chain faces continuing challenges of keeping up with its competition and the changing tastes of its customers.

For these reasons, McDonald’s has been experimenting with various menu changes. One of its most successful changes seems to be the all-day breakfast option. Also, to appease customers who worry about treating animals humanely, the company promises to switch to antibiotic-free chicken over the next two years and cage-free eggs over the next decade. In addition, the chain will focus on offering milk products that come from cows that have not been treated with artificial growth hormones.

In recent years, McDonald’s began to offer more café choices, in the hopes of attracting customers away from Starbucks. While McDonald’s café choices have become popular, the drinks take more time, costing the restaurant one of its most valued benefits: fast service. Further, focusing on its beverage offerings has not proved beneficial as many customers didn’t go to McDonald’s for their drinks in the first place. Therefore, the inevitable decline in sales is happening.

Along with some food and beverage changes, the chain has been changing its appearance. Its restaurants are being refurbished to look more attractive, contemporary, and inviting. By changing its appearance and offering Wi-Fi and higher-end products, the chain hopes to lure customers that normally do not go to the fast food restaurant.

Despite all of its changes, McDonald’s still struggles to keep up with new restaurants that offer more organic and fresher ingredients, such as Chipotle and Panera Bread. It is a challenge to keep the image and products that made the restaurant so popular in the first place, while trying to appeal to different generations. However, it is evident that McDonald’s is willing to try new things to find the happy medium.

Like all brands, no matter how popular, changes must take place in order to keep value. Brands must appeal to their audience and keep pace with consumer tastes. Otherwise, consumers become bored and dissatisfied, making the brand value decline. With McDonald’s willingness to make changes, it is likely the chain will regain a positive sales outcome. However, it could take some time. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see all of the new offerings and changes McDonald’s makes to get there.