In-Depth McDonald’s Marketing Case Study – I’m Lovin’ It Already.

Updated on: May 6, 2024
McDonald's Marketing Strategy
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My name is Aditya Shastri and I have written this case study with the help of my students from IIDE's online digital marketing courses in India.

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McDonald’s has been one of the leading food chains for many years in terms of the quick-service segment. They are a company with a broad understanding of the needs of its customers. 

Today, McDonald’s is the industry’s leader not only in sales volumes but also in profit rates and market valuation. But how did they manage to gain such a strong position? The answer lies in its well-thought-out strategic marketing moves as well as other internal factors. 

That’s why in this case study, we’ll dig deeper into McDonald’s Marketing Strategy in India and globally from a marketing perspective by going through its marketing strategies, marketing mix, marketing campaigns, and SWOT analysis.

So let us start by first learning more about the business model and brand history of McDonald’s.

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About McDonald’s

 

Marketing Strategy of Mcdonald's - A Case Study - About

 

McDonald’s Corporation, or simply McDonald’s, is the world’s largest chain of fast-food restaurants, serving around 69 million customers per day. Headquartered in the United States, the company began in 1940 as a restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald.

In 1948, they reorganized their business as a hamburger stand but later in 1955, businessman Ray Kroc joined the company as a franchise agent who subsequently purchased the chain from the McDonald brothers and oversaw its worldwide growth.

The mission of the company is, “To create delicious feel-good moments for everyone”. 

McDonald’s offers its customers a wide variety of its menu items, along with drinks and other merchandise. It is known for its employee satisfaction, innovation, and commitment to quality.

The business model of McDonald’s is intensive, but in short, it is a franchise-based model. It shares the rights of the business with its franchise partners who later operate McDonald’s in select regions. 

In India, McDonald’s is run by two companies, Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt. Ltd (controls South & West India) and Connaught Plaza Restaurants Private Limited (controls North & East India). It first entered India back in 1996.

Now that we know about McDonald’s Corporation and McDonald’s India. Let us now go through the company in greater detail by going through its marketing mix.

What’s new with McDonalds?

Here’s everything that was buzzing around McDonalds recently:

  • McD introduced the new “KARTIK AARYAN Meal” inspired by the actor’s personality. We will discuss this in detail below in the marketing strategies.
  • McDonalds in India dropped tomatoes in August of 2023 because of rising prices.

  • Mcdonald’s giving away free NFTs in Singapore. Details in this news article by Decrypt.

  • In July 2023, McDonald’s announced that they are coming up with a new concept called CosMc – a spinoff restaurant.
  • McDonald’s opened their first fully automated restaurant in Texas.

Sounds like McDonald’s was quite the talk of the town all this year and rightfully so. Let’s now move on and discuss the buyer persona of McDonalds.

Buyer Persona of McDonald’s

A buyer persona generally refers to the detailed information of an ideal customer of a company. When it comes to Mcdonald’s, people from all countries, ages, and genders enjoy their juicy burgers and fries. Hence, we have focused on the attributes of an ideal buyer at Mcdonald’s.

Buyer’s Persona

Name:

Alisha

Place:

Delhi

Age:

22 years

Profession:

Graphic Designer

Motivation

  • Seeks quick, convenient meals
  • Values cost-effectiveness
  • Enjoys variety and occasional indulgences
  • Prefers shareable food options

Interest & Hobbies

  • Digital Art & Design
  • Socializing with friends
  • Watching movies and TV series
  • Exploring new cafes and restaurants

Pain Points

  • Time-strapped due to work
  • Dislikes long wait times
  • Concerned about food consistency
  • Health-conscious
  • Prefers a quieter ambiance

Social Media Presence

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


Marketing Mix of Mcdonald’s

A marketing mix is a model that an organization uses to advance its interest in its image or product. The main components of this model are the 4Ps: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. So let us look at McDonald’s marketing mix strategy in the coming section.

We have written a separate blog taking a deeper dive into the marketing mix of McDonald’s if you wish to learn more.

Product Strategy of McDonald’s

Being a fast-food company, it primarily sells burgers, french fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes and desserts. 

McDonald’s menus are known around the globe, although there are geographic variations to suit the local preferences & tastes of customers. The company continuously improves its products and services based on the changing needs and tastes of consumers.

The core value of what McDonald’s offers has always been fast service which is a huge value addition. Nowhere else can you get such a range of items at even lower prices with such efficiency, convenience and customer service.

 

Marketing Strategy of Mcdonald's - A Case Study - Marketing Mix - Product Strategy

 

Price Strategy of McDonald’s

The pricing strategy of McDonald’s has always been to offer food at low prices. This is what has allowed the restaurant to be successful for many years.

This also has primarily helped McDonald’s build its reputation as one of the top fast-food brands in the world. However, with the costs of living continuing to rise, McDonald’s has begun offering combos and specials in an effort to entice customers and churn out profits through economies of scale.

In India, the brand came up with a punchy line – “Aap Ke Zamane Mein, Baap Ke Zamane Ke Daam”. This was done back in 2008 to attract lower and middle-class customers to experience the offerings of McDonald’s India and it worked out very well.

 

Marketing Strategy of Mcdonald's - A Case Study - Marketing Mix - Price Strategy

 

Place and Distribution Strategy of McDonald’s

McDonald’s is one of the world’s leading quick-service restaurants (QSR) with over 38,000 restaurants in 100+ countries. It recently opened nearly 1,000 new restaurants globally &  also modernized another 900 restaurants in the US.

 

Marketing Strategy of Mcdonald's - A Case Study - Marketing Mix - Place and Distribution Strategy

 

It has opened different restaurant formats as well as drive-ins, online ordering, and tying with food delivery partners. These new formats allow the customers to get the desired food at a particular time and place which also helps them to have a better experience overall.

The stores themselves are clean unlike others as they always keep their outdoor seating space sanitized while having indoor seating areas for an elegant ambience.

 

Marketing Strategy of Mcdonald's - A Case Study - Marketing Mix - Place and Distribution Strategy

 

Promotion Strategy of McDonald’s

McDonald’s uses a lot of promotional techniques as promotional activities help build brand loyalty and interest. It gives people who may not normally go to McDonald’s a reason to go there.

 

Marketing Strategy of Mcdonald's - A Case Study - Marketing Mix - Promotion Strategy

 

Just like any other company, McDonald’s also sponsors various promotion campaigns to push their brand. Promotions help in creating a sense of community and association between the company and its customers.

Now that we know about McDonald’s offerings and its promotional tactics, let us now go through the core marketing elements of its marketing strategy in the coming section.

 

McDonald’s Marketing Strategy in India and Globally

With an innovative approach to marketing and consumption patterns through value-added menu improvements, McDonald’s aims to significantly improve market share in key markets through continually improving customer satisfaction and attracting new customers through cost savings, operational efficiencies and improving brand awareness.

So let us look at some of the marketing strategies implemented by McDonald’s over the past years.

A Detailed Focus on McDonald’s Franchise Model

McDonald’s has made such a franchise model that many companies even today replicate this model in their operations. 

Why did their model work? Two main factors contributed to the success of the Model: First, McDonald’s made a huge investment to ensure that the quality of services it provided was consistent across all its franchise outlets. The company invested in acquiring its products from local regions and crafted menus that catered to individual regions’ palettes.

The above two factors have worked wonders for McDonald’s and paved the way to enter and expand its reach globally.

 

Catering to All Age Audience

Being a fast-food restaurant, MC Donaldss decided to cater to all ages. Since then McDonald’s has scouted ways to market its offering for all age groups of a family.

Mcdonald’s came up with options like Happy Meal to target children and also offered its meals in bigger packages and different portion sizes to ensure that hunger be it small or large can be satisfied at Mcdonald’s. 

 

McDonald’s – I’m Lovin’ It…. Para Pap Pap Paa:

“I’m Lovin’ It…  Para Pap Pap Paa” is a very well-known jingle that has been used by McDonald’s for a very long time now.

This jingle highlights the positive experience one can have while dining at McDonald’s. The jingle is memorable because it speaks about how happy consumers are during their meals there, and how helpful and friendly the employees are.

 

 

Brand Mascot of McDonald’s

What is the best McDonald’s brand mascot? A funny clown character that McDonald’s can successfully market to both children and adults. The brand mascot strategy was first implemented by McDonald’s in 1963 and since then this mascot has become an integral part of the company’s legacy. 

 

Marketing Strategy of Mcdonald's - A Case Study - Brand Mascot

 

Collaborations with McDonald’s

McDonald’s has a long history of collaboration with various companies and artists. The motive behind these collaborations is to maintain its brand reinforcement in the minds of its customers. This goes beyond simply creating advertising campaigns that promote the value of its products. 

It very recently collaborated with BTS – the very popular South Korean Music band where it introduced a special McDonald’s meal called the BTS Meal. Likewise, it has collaborated with artists like Travis Scott, and J Balvin as well as Companies like Coca-Cola.

 

Marketing Strategy of Mcdonald's - A Case Study - Collaborations - BTS Meal

 

Marketing Strategy of Mcdonald's - A Case Study - Collaborations - Travis Scott Meal

 

Digital Marketing Strategies of McDonald’s

By adopting digital marketing practices, McDonald’s has been able to increase its brand awareness and create demand for its offerings. The information promoted is similar to the ones used in traditional marketing platforms such as TV, billboards, newspapers, etc., however, the execution of the same content differs. 

By encouraging its customers to click pictures of their meals and post them on various social media platforms. This growing food photography trend has helped McDonald’s to lure new customers, in fact, between the period of September 2018 and February 2019, there were 4.9 million McDonald’s logos posted on Twitter globally.   

The company also adopted SEO practices, where it found that its “organic” practices perform better than “sponsored” promotions. As per Simplilearn, in December 2019, McDonald’s received 90.7% of the search traffic through organic searches by their customers, while the remainder was received through sponsored activities.  

McDonald’s has increased its engagement with its customers by interacting with them on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Also communication of various offers and discounts through social media have also been a factor contributing to the increase in customer traffic on its website and App.

By incorporating digital elements in McDonald’s marketing strategy, the company has been able to maximise its reach.

Are you interested in learning digital marketing strategies that can help your business grow, then I recommend you check this blog on “IIDE’s PG in Digital Marketing ROI” so that you can understand how investing in a PG course can help you reap benefits for your business in the long run.

Marketing & Advertising Campaigns of McDonald’s India

A marketing campaign can have many goals, but at the core, they are all about getting more customers. An effective and well-timed campaign will create a demand which then supports the product or service. 

When it comes to McDonald’s, it has a very strong strategy in place. Right from showcasing its delicious burgers along with bringing out the positive “McDonald’s vibe” to ending the commercials with slogans like, “I’m Lovin’ It…  Para Pap Pap Paa”.

So let us look at some of the popular campaigns of McDonald’s.

Kartik Aaryan Meal by Mcdonald’s India 

Mcdonald’s India introduced the new Kartik Aaryan Meal including burger, fries, and a pizza puff with a different packaging than unusual. The meal also features a QR Code, which upon scanning, fans can take a selfie with him virtually. 


We Get It – Campaign & Commercial Ad 

Another Campaign launched by McDonald’s India was “We Get It” revolving around the craziness of life and how McD continues to make you feel special and give the best experience through that. 

 

There’s A McCafe for Every Moment – A Marketing Campaign of McDonald’s India

McDonald’s India came up with this campaign to highlight its beverage range, McCafe and how they are there for all the good, bad and neutral moments of life. 

This campaign was released back in 2017, showcasing all the minute elements of life through a catchy theme song.

 

Family time means McDonald’s #Mealsmakefamilies – A Marketing Campaign gaining lots of love

McDonald’s India came up with this campaign to highlight how meals bring families together.

This campaign which was launched recently showcases some relatable moments people share with families while having a McDonald’s meal.

 

Marketing & Advertising Campaigns of McDonald’s during the Covid-19 Pandemic:

McDonald’s released a series of advertising commercials showcasing how so many things have changed since the pandemic. The basic idea behind the campaign was to highlight how life has changed but McDonald’s is still there, offering the same positive experience with extra hygiene and safety measures.

 

 

 #MatchedByYou – A Marketing Campaign of McDonald’s India

McDonald’s introduced an exciting campaign #MatchedByYou. It shows a love triangle between burgers, fries, and cola. This campaign showcased the offering of food combos for a price as low as ₹45.

 

 

After reading the McDonald’s Marketing Strategy, I suggest that you take a deeper look into the SWOT Analysis of Mcdonald’s.

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Top Competitors of McDonald’s 

Like fast fashion, fast food outlets are also trying to get a share of the monopoly that McDonald’s once enjoyed. Here are a few top competitors of McDonald’s in India as well as internationally:

1. Top Competitors in India

  • Burger King 
  • KFC
  • Domino’s 
  • Subway
  • Jumbo King 
  • Wow Momo’s 
  • Local Food Joints 


2. Top Competitors Internationally

  • KFC
  • Pizza Hut 
  • Taco Bell 
  • Smokin Joes
  • Domino’s 
  • Burger King


Failed Campaigns of McDonald’s

We looked at the campaigns that brought the essence of McDonald’s to everyone’s screen but now let’s look at some of the failed campaigns that didn’t hit a chord with the audience. 

1. #McDStories on Twitter 

In the late 2010s, McDonald’s introduced a hashtag on Twitter –  #McDStories & that encouraged their fans to share their stories revolving around the Happy Meal. 

What the brand expected was stories that would inspire people to get together with their friends and family to enjoy a Happy Meal. 

Instead, Twitter users started using this hashtag sarcastically and shared their negative experiences with McDonald’s.

Here’s one of the tweets using #McDStories:

mcdonalds marketing strategy - failed campaigns

2. Controversial Ad in India 

In 2023, McDonald’s released a commercial ad where a customer was wooing a female staff member. The ad didn’t go well without the viewers and faced a lot of backlash. 

FAQs 

Q1. What is the marketing strategy of McDonald’s?

Ans: McDonald’s marketing strategy adopts an emotional approach by marketing Ads that evoke emotions, such as togetherness, joy, and laughter among its target audience. The only aim in evoking such emotions is to show that this brand can deliver an enjoyable experience and make their moments cherishable.

Q2. What type of strategy does McDonald’s use?

Ans: McDonald’s has heavily focused on its pricing strategy by keeping its price as low as possible with the aim to deliver happiness in the lowest possible price.

Q3. What is the marketing strategy of McDonald’s in India?

Ans: McDonald’s marketing strategies in India adopt 5ps: product, price, place, promotion and people. The primary aim of all these 5 Ps is to deliver value to its products and build a relationship over the long run.

Q4. Why is McDonald’s marketing so successful?

Ans: McDonald’s has been working on creating a strong brand through its marketing efforts involving traditional and digital marketing channels. Such consistent communication has helped the community to build a strong relationship with their customers contributing to the success of their marketing efforts.

Q5. Who is the target audience of McDonalds?

Ans: McDonald’s caters to everyone, be it children, elders, working professionals, etc. They have curated meals that can cater to both small and large hunger, making their products a go to meal for their audience. 

Conclusion

McDonald’s is one of the world’s most recognized fast-food restaurants. With annual revenues in excess of $19 billion, it is no doubt that McDonald’s has a major influence on society in terms of food choices. 

Its reach extends far beyond the borders of its home country and geographically encompasses many nations around the globe. With a strong presence on both offline and online marketing, and cruise control over production and distribution, McDonald’s looks very well placed to take up industry-changing challenges.

Want to learn how you can create such compelling strategies? Head onto our Online Digital Marketing Courses where you will be trained in such aspects.

Let us know your thoughts on this case study in the comment section down below. Thank you for reading, and if you liked our then do share this in your circle. 

Liked our work? Interested in learning further? Do check our website for more. Also, if you’re interested in Digital Marketing, you can check out our Free Digital Marketing Masterclass by Karan Shah.

Until then, see you next time!

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Aditya Shastri

Lead Trainer & Head of Learning & Development at IIDE

Leads the Learning & Development segment at IIDE. He is a Content Marketing Expert and has trained 6000+ students and working professionals on various topics of Digital Marketing. He has been a guest speaker at prominent colleges in India including IIMs......[Read full bio]

4 Comments

  1. Ajira Asthana

    This is a concise and well written case study of Mc Donald’s. It will be useful for Management students .

    Reply
  2. ISHA

    One of the best detailed report i have read. Great work, great research.

    Reply
    • Ali haider merchant

      Very well written blog on mcdonalds marketing strategy which makes us understand how McDonald’s is growing instead of so much competition

      Reply
  3. Sheetal Gupta

    McDonald’s leverages nostalgia and innovation, captivating diverse consumer demographics effectively.

    Reply

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