This study focuses on the multinational fast food giant McDonald’s Corporation, with particular attention paid to the corporation’s situation in China. Given the disparity in cultural foods between Western countries like the United States, and China, and that McDonald’s food very much reflects food preferences in the U.S., it is very interesting to see how McDonald’s works to capture China’s attention and takes hold in the Chinese market.
This case study includes: a company profile of McDonald’s; a situational analysis; a SWOT analysis that performs an investigation on internal and external circumstances of the fast food chain in China and Hong Kong; an identification of some of the problems that the chain is facing in China; possible solutions to the identified problems.
McDonald’s: Company Profile
McDonald’s Corporation was established in 1955 in the state of Illinois. The corporation franchises, operates and develops a global network of restaurants, that each sells a limited menu of value foods. McDonald’s is the most popular ‘fast food’ service retailer in the world, with more than 30,000 restaurants in over 119 countries serving approximately 50 million people every day (McDonald’s, 2005).
Popular menu options include the Quarter Pounder, Big Mac, Happy Meal, Egg McMuffin and Chicken McNuggets, as well as a large range of other menu options including fries, chicken sandwiches, salads and sundaes at reasonable prices that the majority of people can afford. The corporation is well known for its fast service and for its efforts in recent years to diversify its menu range to make their options more appealing to a larger number of customers.
McDonald’s first arrived in Hong Kong in 1975, and Beijing much later in 1992. Hong Kong operates around 200 restaurants and outlets, with over 10,000 staff employed (McDonald’s HK, 2007) and in Beijing there are over 90 outlets (CEN, 2006). McDonald’s emergence in China, despite the unique, historic culture of the country, has been something of a success story due to the country’s rapid development and the changing lifestyles and characteristics of its people.
Just like any other company on the planet, McDonald’s has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, and as far as the corporation’s operation in China is concerned, these can cause operational threats and yet at the same time lead to opportunities. Additionally there are external factors that can affect the company which need to be taken into account.
Situational analysis is a very important tool for the investigation of effective marketing strategies in business. A common method makes use of SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. SWOT analysis aims to analyze an organization’s internal and external environment, with the purpose of understanding internal organizational strengths for taking advantage of external opportunities, and the purpose of understanding external/internal threats and weaknesses (Panagiotou, 2003, p.8).
As such, SWOT analysis is a commercial strategy and tool used for decision making purposes, which gives a company the necessary depth of analysis with which to fully understand its own internal characteristics, as well as relevant external factors such as market environment, consumers and competitors, to allow the company to enact the most suitable strategies.
SWOT Analysis: Strengths
One of the most significant strengths of McDonald’s is its incredibly strong brand identity, which effectively differentiates the company from all other fast food restaurants around the world. This is especially the case in China, because of the contrast between cuisine offered by Chinese restaurants and fast-food outlets, and the food offered by McDonald’s. The company is able to deliver interesting new products and services, including the McCafe which offers a sit-in and drive-thru cafeteria service.
A key strength of McDonald’s is the fact that it mixes a uniform product menu at every store, with localized food options to suit the tastes of the local consumer. In Shanghai and Beijing for example there are a number of spicy food options available. Just because localized food choices are available does not mean that each McDonald’s location does not retain its own classic sense of place and purpose, and indeed there are many Chinese who think that McDonald’s is there to offer something different to traditional Chinese cuisine, and to connect them with the wider globalised world (Watson, 2000).
McDonald’s has high quality customer service, and this is agreed by even China’s elite class. The general consumer agrees that McDonald’s offers safe and reliable products, a fast service, an attractive eating environment and helpful, professional and friendly staff. The corporation knows that this industry is very much a service industry, and they appreciate that the relationship between customers and staff is important. The recent “Ask Me” program is a good example showing the corporation’s efforts to push the quality of customer services. With this program, McDonald’s is able to understand what the customer wants and further improve their products and services.(责任编辑：anne)