Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No, McDonalds does NOT address the mass market

For decades, people much smarter than myself have written about the McDonalds system of standardization, and how they get the right thing to the right customer no matter where they are. One of the latest to write about McDonalds is Chris Brogan. Brogan has long been an advocate of personalizing relationships, and he took a brief moment to poke a bit of fun at himself:

There is a very low personalization requirement at McDonalds. When we choose to eat there, we forego the cafe-shaped world and enter into the rapid delivery world, the “known” world. We know what we’ll get when we come there.

For every time I tell you that social media and customized personalization and cafe-shaped conversations are the way to go, remember that McDonalds continues to thrive, and that McDonalds is mass marketing at its shiniest....

Now it's possible to misread Brogan's post and conclude that McDonalds addresses the mass market.

They don't.

They address the mass markets (with a plural).

While one can argue, and many have argued in Brogan's comments area, that McDonalds provides a consistent customer experience, that consistent customer experience is not enjoyed worldwide. If you go to another country, you may enjoy a consistent customer experience for THAT country, which may have some significant differences from the consistent customer experience that I enjoy in a United States McDonalds.

There's a post at trifter.com entitled "Mcdonald’s Strange Menu Around the World" that highlights some of these differences. For example, if you go to India, don't try to get a Big Mac (because of Hindu dietary restrictions on the consumption of beef). But there are a number of localized specialties that you can get in various countries.

And even the U.S. McDonalds experience isn't uniform. The trifter.com post mentioned one item that is available outside the U.S.:

In parts of Canada, have a lobster dinner with the McLobster lobster roll. Pardon me - "McHomard" (in French).

But, as one commenter pointed out,

We have the McLobster Rolls here in Maine too...

Now this was written in July 2007, but the McLobster was apparently also available in May 2008:

And there are other regional favorites in the United States, including Saimin (noodles) in Hawaii and Polish food in Ohio.

So perhaps McDonalds is a little more personalized than we've assumed.
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