Remember the days when the humble “Maccas” was place for a quick and dirty meal that you know you’d regret later? Now the fast food chain is barely recognisable after undergoing some massive changes in recent years to make itself "a little bit fancy". But is this strategy working out for McDonald’s?
Competition in the fast food industry has been fierce as newer franchises enter the marketplace to displace the dominance of giants like KFC and McDonald’s. Consumers now have more choice than ever when it comes to eating out and fast food joints have upped their game in response to changing demands.
For McDonald’s, it has been trying to forge a new reputation as a classy family restaurant while retaining the speed and factory line structure of a fast food chain. The group has lost a lot of its appeal with the younger generations and are desperately trying to change its fortunes. Initiatives that have been introduced as part of the new direction include revamping the look of stores, implementing an all-day breakfast menu and bringing in a “Create Your Taste” menu which allows you to order customised gourmet burgers.
But is this new strategy working for Maccas? According to a survey of 29 franchises for about 220 McDonald’s restaurants in the US, it’s failing miserably. While the survey is US-centric, given that Australian McDonald’s follow a very similar roadmap, this information is still relevant to us.
The franchises are critical of the changes as it complicates kitchen operations and adds complexity and customer confusion to restaurant menus.
"The system is very lost at the moment,” one franchisee said. “Our menu boards are still bloated, and we are still trying to be too many things to too many people. …Things are broken from the franchisee perspective.”
According to another franchisee: “They are throwing everything they can against the wall to see what will stick.”
In the US, McDonald’s has continued to struggle financially for the past few quarters and desperately needs a turnaround and it’s still too early to tell if the new initiatives are paying off. In Australia, the chain has reported a decent profit in 2014 but seeing as we're following all the same initiatives, it wouldn't be surprising to experience flow on effects from the McDonald's US.
Given Lifehacker Australia readers are passionate fast food fans, we want to know your thoughts on McDonald’s new direction. At this rate, are they doomed to fail? Let us know in the comments.