McDonald’s Company: Strategy and Marketing Review

McDonald’s is a name that is well recognized all over America as the most popular chain of fast food restaurants. McDonald has created a passion for fast food not only in America but the world over. Menu items such as French Fries, Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, Chicken McNuggets and Egg McMuffin are very popular items with people of all ages. The history of McDonald begins with its founder Ray Kroc, who bought the company from the McDonald brothers (Maurice and Richard) and transformed it into a hugely successful brand. Using quality, service, cleanliness, and value as a commercial mantra, and maintaining strict uniformity of product, McDonald’s has grown very fast (Royle, 2000). There have been franchises opening throughout the country and new menu items being added on a continuous basis. It has also expanded internationally through the franchising model and serves over 52 million people in more than 100 countries each day (Royle, 2000). The McDonald business follows a franchising model and more than 70% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local men and women. According to its Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner, 2008 was a strong year for McDonald’s and through strategic focus on menu choice, food quality and value, the average number of customers served per day increased to more than 58 million in 2008 (PR Newswire, 2009).

When Kroc saw the company under the McDonald brothers in the early 1950s, he was impressed by the fast assembly line fashion preparation of burgers, fries, sodas and shakes. For example, to prepare and bag French fries, workers follow nineteen carefully calculated steps; the French fry scoop enables workers to fill a bag and set it down in one continuous motion and helps them to gauge the proper serving size. After buying it, Kroc standardized not only food preparation techniques but also procedures for book-keeping, purchasing, dealing with customers and workers and virtually every other aspect of the business. All production and serving operations at McDonald’s are done according to its Operations and Training Manual, also known as the ‘bible’ to McDonald’s managers.

McDonald’s success is based on its values such as quality, service, cleanliness, and value, commonly known as QSC & V. Through its marketing campaigns, the company has successfully targeted child consumers (Alfino et al, 1998). Apart from that, the company has used a varied number of methods to promote its image: advertising (television, radio, billboards, etc.), sponsorship (AFL, local basketball, Ronald House), sales promotion (e.g. the two-dollar burger), direct marketing (through birthday clubs, etc.) and publicity (McHappy Day). Due to increasing competition in the fast-food industry during the 1990s, McDonald’s expanded its menu to include “pizza, chicken fajitas, breakfast burritos, submarine sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs, bone-in chicken, a grilled chicken sandwich, carrot and celery sticks, fresh-ground coffee and even bottled water”.(Pine and Davis, 1999).

McDonald’s has faced opposition both domestically and internationally. Internationally, the company is viewed as American and consumption of its product, fast foods, is viewed “Americanization” of the diet which threatens local culture and tradition (Ritzer, 1998). On the domestic level, nutritionists find the food at McDonald’ very unhealthy. They accuse it of being processed junk food – high in fat sugar and salt, and low in fiber and vitamins and warn that a diet of this type is linked with a greater risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases. In fact, rising obesity rate among children and adults has been blamed on McDonald’s fast food culture.

However, the fact remains that Americans spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software or new cars; every month more than 90 percent of American children eat at McDonald’s and the average American eats three hamburgers and four orders of French fries every week (Russo, 2001). As long as such popularity exists, McDonald’s golden arches are bound to keep shining like gold in the future.


Alfino, Mark; Caputo, S. John and Wynyard, Robin (1998). Critical Essays on Consumer Culture. Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT, 1998.

Pine, Joseph and Davis, Stan (1999). Mass Customization: The New Frontier in Business Competition. Harvard Business Press, 1999.

PR Newswire (2009). McDonald’s Delivers Another Year of Strong Results in 2008. Web.

Ritzer, George (1998). The McDonaldization Thesis: Explorations and Extensions. SAGE Publications, 1998.

Royle, Rony (2000). Working for Mcdonald’s in Europe: The Unequal Struggle?. Routledge Publishers, New York, 2000.

Russo, Maria (2001). Unhappy Meals. Web.

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