Mastering The Art of Localization with McDonald's
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World food traditions are colliding with each other, and people are now becoming more open to new flavors and cuisines. However, when it comes to your comfort food, it has to be local, traditional, and convenient. This is what McDonald’s stands for. Rather than positioning themselves as an American brand, they strive to become a global brand that feels more local to natives.

McDonald’s is a go-to fast food restaurant not just in America but in many other regions around the world. It is a leading fast-food chain doing this business globally since 1940. Whether you are in India, China, or the Middle East, you can find McDonald’s almost everywhere. When it comes to McDonald’s localization, they believe in keeping their brand culture-friendly, so more customers can resonate with it. In this blog, we’ll talk about McDonald’s localization strategies and how they are dominating the fast-food industry around the world.

How McDonald’s is Blending with Global Cultures?

Simply put, McDonald’s localization strategy is a combination of innovation and culture adoption. They stay close to the cultural roots of their target audiences to build more personalized relations with them. They also believe in innovation to improve their services and customers’ experience. McDonald’s keeps in mind the customer demographics and socio-economical factors of every region.

As the consumer is becoming more conscious about their food choices and looking for healthier food options, the company is also adding healthier food elements to their meals, such as vegetables, fruits, healthy drinks, and salads.

McDonald’s have built their image as a fast and convenient brand internationally. They keep renovating their restaurant’s setup based on industry trends and customers’ preferences. They have never represented themselves as the typical American food chain; McDonald’s always accepted the local cultures that helped them capture a big chunk of global markets and scale their business smartly.

Examples of McDonald’s Localization in Different Regions

McDonald’s business is thriving globally and has made a successful brand in many countries. McDonald’s has built its brand persona very well considering the diversified cultures and social norms in different regions. This company has maximized its localization techniques to achieve global success and build its positive reputation internationally. They are targeting the middle-class and lower-class segments to be the best fast-food brand in the country. Following are some countries’ examples where McDonald’s has been successfully doing its business regardless of their diversified cultures and social norms.

India 

American taste buds are quite different from Indians. Keeping this in mind, McDonald’s has modified the menus that made them fit in the Indian cultures. Considering the fact that the majority of people in the country are vegetarian, they added more non-veg food items to their menus. Moreover, people prefer chicken over beef, so the company has replaced beef patties with chicken in their Big Mac, they renamed it to Maharaja Mac. McAloo Tikki is a famous item on McDonald’s menu in India that is not available anywhere else. Their vegetable pizza McPuff is also very famous in the country. They also serve garlic-free sauce for the Jain vegetarian community.

McDonald’s also keeps the affordability of their food in mind, considering the living standard of an average Indian. To increase sales, they have introduced happy meals, family meals, combo meals that offer high value at a discounted price. 

China 

Initially, McDonald’s had a hard time positioning its brand for the Chinese market because of the diversified flavors and food preferences of people. China is a difficult market to survive for any foreign business, but McDonald’s has managed to build a good reputation in China as well. In their Chinese menus, they have spicy chicken wings – McWings. Similar to India, in China, they focus on chicken instead of beef. Moreover, they use thigh filet rather than chicken breast, considering the meat preferences of Chinese people. There is a long list of unique food items that you will only get in China, including Pineapple Pie, Taro Pie, Congee, and Red Bean Boba tea.

Considering the latest trends and cultural values of different regions in China, they modify their marketing campaigns and menus accordingly. For instance, the breakfast menu they offer in Shanghai is very different from the breakfast menu in Beijing. 

Japan 

Did you know, Japan has the second most McDonald’s outlets after the United States? There are around 2900 McDonald’s stores in Japan. McDonald’s in Japan offers their customers 2 meat options to choose from. Similarly, they also offer different portion sizes of fries and drinks. In McDonald’s Japan, you’ll find a wide variety of unique snacks such as chocolate with potatoes, Avocado Hamburgers, 4 floors of Giant Hamburger, Shrimp Burger, Rice Burger, Seaweed Shaker Etc. Moreover, McDonald’s in Japan is quite cheap compared to many other countries.

They keep on doing promotional marketing campaigns to engage more customers. McDonald’s runs successful digital marketing campaigns featuring Pokémon Go video games. They have also given a contemporary feel to their restaurants, using digital technology to attract more tech-savvy customers.

Middle East

In the Middle-eastern region, McDonald’s serves McArabia Pita with both beef and chicken patties. They don’t serve pork in this region (just like any other Muslim country) because the majority of the population is Muslim. All food they serve in middle eastern countries complies with halal requirements. Food ingredients to other cooking equipment conform to Islamic regulations. McDonald’s offers French fries and Coca-Cola with their meals, just like any other country. Moreover, they offer more red meat options and go quite minimalistic with vegetables. The company has adopted the middle eastern culture very well, reflects in their menus and overall setup of outlets.

Argentina 

In McDonald’s Argentina, they offer a McFiesta burger that is very much similar to quarter pounder, but here they put mayonnaise instead of ketchup. Here you’ll get traditional American options like Fries, Coca-Cola, and ice cream cones. They also offer many vegetarian options to cater to the vegan community. Their McWrap Veggie is very popular and includes parmesan cheese, tomato, mayonnaise, and egg.

McDonald’s keeps experimenting with its products in this region to understand the customer’s preferences. They only keep the items in their menu that proved profitable and emit the ones that failed to make a good profit.

Europe 

People of Scandinavian countries prefer healthy food with lots of vegetables. Considering the food preferences of locals, McDonald’s has scaled its business by adding more vegetarian options to its menu. Their vegetarian burger McBean is quite famous in the region. It contains kidney beans, cannellini, onions, carrots, bell peppers, lettuce, tomato with a sauce. In Sweden, they have a chicken salad bucket, known as Salad Kyckling och Beglugalinser. In the Denmark McDonald’s menu, you’ll get hummus with chicken. Turkish people like minced beef, so here you’ll get a Kofte burger, which is a minced meat kebab with yogurt sauce and onions.

You may feel discriminated to know that in France McDonald’s includes macarons on their menu. People in France are very fond of desserts, pastries, and baked sweets. Considering this in mind, they offer a lot of dessert and sweets items on their menu.

Key Lessons from McDonald’s Localization Strategy 

The robust localization strategy of McDonald’s is a major factor behind its global success. The company knows how to imbibe foreign cultures to give their brand a native feel. For many decades McDonald’s has managed to provide a personalized dining experience to their customers around the world. When it comes to the localization strategy of the company, they always make the culture reflect through their brand. If you want to localize your brand for other foreign markets, you can get a lot of localization inspiration from McDonald’s. 

The following are some important localization and globalization lessons you can learn from McDonald’s.

Don’t Over Complicate It 

When it comes to branding and localization, McDonald’s always keeps things simple. They put on the menu what their customers like. Considering the cultural and social values of every region, McDonald’s has made a reputation for convenience and comfort food. Although they offer a diversified menu for every region, it is very simple and well categorized everywhere. They provide localized food options and also allow their customers to customize their meals based on their personal preferences. Moreover, being an innovative brand, they provide digital experiences through mobile apps and Apple Pay for guests. They believe in the “less is more” concept, and only come up with the food items on their menus that their customers are actually craving for.

Your Brand Is Not Your Product 

Majority of the people in the United States associate McDonald’s brand with hamburgers. However, it does not mean they don’t offer anything else. It is a hamburger brand that provides dozens of other food items. McDonald’s never restricts itself to typical hamburgers, and always keeps its menus diversified in the global market. You can find vegetarian and chicken burgers as well that sell like hot dogs every day. For the company, the local preferences are on top priority. It is the main reason why McDonald’s is never hesitant to play around with diversified flavors and weird combos.

So, if you want to take your business to a foreign market, always treat your brand as a separate entity from your product. Your products are related to your brand, but not always identical. McDonald’s has managed to build a robust brand image with different attributes around the world.

Listen To Your Customers 

It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what your customers are actually expecting from you. McDonald’s never assumes what their customers would love eating, but they actually listen to them. The company has always been very open to getting customers’ feedback that helped them along the way to improve their services and food. McDonald’s consciously observes the behaviors of their customers and their response towards different items on the menu. This enables the company to figure out what is making their customers happy and more satisfied. They did not just modify their menus, but the whole marketing and packaging of the products are localized in a way that makes their products look more local and familiar.

Small Markets Can Make Big Difference 

Most businesses think, to actually be successful and scalable, they have to target big markets with a massive number of customers. That’s a wrong assumption. Small markets can be profitable too and very well define your future. Being a global company, around 70 of the total revenue of McDonald’s comes from big economies like China, Australia, the UK, the US, Germany, France, Japan, etc.

However, the company never underestimates the small markets that make around 30% of their revenue. It is a brilliant move from their side because, in the future, their market share would increase as the spending power of the population grows. So, McDonald’s is scaling their business on a growing customer base that makes their future seem brighter.

Keep It, Native!

There are many standard products of McDonald’s that are desirable for every marketplace, such as French fries and shakes. However, a major section of their menu is local and native. The company’s menu is highly influenced by food preferences and local flavors. They never tried to be rigid about their western flavors and typical American taste, instead, they have blended themselves well in local cultures that most locals still think that McDonald’s is a local brand. Not just their menu but marketing, brand promotions, and packaging is done keeping in mind the cultural nuances of every region. The company runs localized marketing campaigns and promotional ads by translating their content and modifying the other components of ads. For instance, considering the fact that the majority of Chinese people don’t recognize English, from brand names to slogans, everything is translated to the native language of customers.

Wrapping Up!

Through extensive market research, customer feedback, and cultural understanding, McDonald’s has built a successful brand globally. Localization is a primary factor in the global marketing strategy of the company. Through their smart localization efforts, McDonald’s tries to connect with their customers and develop a lasting relationship with them. Keeping the menus culture-specific is a wise move from a company that is allowing them to thrive in a global marketplace. The company fully inculcates the local cultures to make their brand feel native. It also helps McDonald’s better resonate with local audiences and make more people lovin’ it.

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