Why McDonald’s Greatest Point of Inflection is Upon Them

We are tHappy Faimly Eating McDonald'soo busy to eat in my house.

Too busy to look up from our iPhones.

Too busy to stop posting to Facebook.

Too busy to not give into Instagram narcissism while harassing our cats.

It was the dawn of discovering just how terrible a parent I am by enabling digital consumption as a priority over food consumption that led me to writing this post.

I’m currently sitting on my couch in my living room watching football, surrounded by my daughters and the manic staccato of fingertips typing off their respective mobile devices, when a McDonald’s commercial flashed on the television.

I’m lovin’ it, but are my kids?

No, they barely payed attention, but I was when it hit me: McDonald’s is in trouble. Like real trouble. Like change or die trouble! And because I’m OCD, I began thinking more and more about the last time I personally walked into a McDonald’s (at least a year) verses Chipotle (twice a week…because, burrito bowl).

The deteriorating relevancy of the largest QSR in the world can be broken down into three areas:

  1. An inability to bring franchisees and management closer together on company goals.
  2. A failure to acknowledge the landscape change of competition with the growing rise of casual fast food chains such as Shake Shack, Chipotle, Sweetgreen and Culver’s.
  3. The perceptional challenge of preventing people from accessing healthier food options, becoming a catalyst in overcoming the socio-economic limitations and restrictions that prevent people from obtaining them.

Those three points are a mouthful (pun FTW!), and I could probably write a graduate dissertation on the topic but I’ll refrain from both for your sake and mine. In layman’s terms here’s the issue: McDonald’s is a franchise driven model that’s no longer on the same page as its franchisees. In a survey reported by CNN that polled 29 domestic McDonald’s franchisees, who own and operate over 200 restaurants, relations between McDonald’s franchisees and the company tumbled to 1.45 on a scale of 1 to 5. That falls between “poor” and “fair” and is down from 2.1 over the history of the survey.

One of their greatest complaints? A complex menu that currently hosts over 160 items. Shake Shack? Less than 50 (and that includes doggy treats!).

And speaking of, here’s the elephant in the room: Consumers are willing to put their dollars towards quality over price. Despite serving 70 million customers per day, McDonald’s continues to hover towards the basement of customer satisfaction surveys. So what are customers choosing when they want a fast meal? Chik-fil-A, Chipotle and Panera Brand round up the highest satisfaction amongst consumers according to ACSI.

When your entire reason for existence revolves around a dollar menu, you may want to start reevaluating your strategy.

Can it be fixed? Can McDonald’s turn it around?

Yes, I believe they can. But it’s going to take a Starbucks level reboot to make it come to fruition, and that’s some serious insanity to think Wall Street would be forgiving enough for them to take a similar page from their caffeinated competitor.

All of this has to be shocking to the golden arches. 35,000 restaurants, $27 billion in revenue, 1 million employees, 50 MILLION fans on Facebook serving 70 million customers per day and they find themselves in the unenviable position of fending off consumer watchgroups, Wall Street Analysts and even their own franchisees.

And yet there probably isn’t a brand on the planet that can single-handedly change the global socioeconomic environment like McDonald’s can. Imagine…

  • A McDonald’s that accelerates its commitment to removing antibiotics from its meat.
  • A McDonald’s that obligates itself to bringing healthy AND tasty food to its menu.
  • A McDonald’s that demands its franchisees partake in community outreach as a requirement to ownership.

They can change the world. How empowering is that?

We are too busy to eat in my house when my youngest put down her iPod, looked up at me and asked, “It’s Sunday, can we go to Culver’s? Like, as a family?”

That? See, I’m loving that.

One comment

  1. Scott Monty · October 5, 2015

    I’m pretty sure that McDonalds is well aware of all of that, and I’m also fairly certain that they’re in the midst of addressing most of what you laid out. They just haven’t been doing a very good job of telling their story (focusing too much on the re-re-treading of the “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign instead). When I saw the roll-out of that – prior to the departure of the previous CEO – I was disturbed at how the focus was on “brand love” (who talks like that?!?) and completely missed the point that McDonalds hasn’t been a love-fest for consumers for some time; going there is largely an act of convenience. Or maybe even surrender.

    Oh, and it’s a good thing your daughter chose Culver’s instead of Chick-Fil-A on this Sunday. 😉

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