468 Retail and Channel Management Blog

Friday, January 30, 2015

McDonalds: I’m loving the new experience!

We all have a soft-spot for McDonald's as they have been in our lives in some shape or form.  Known for their recognizable golden arches and burgers, they are now changing the way we look at the fast-food industry.  Originally an industry with connotations of being cheap and fast, the retail experience was built around quick service and price point.  However times have changed and evolving customer demands saw McDonald's reassess their value proposition.[1]

Whatever your reasons are to go to (or not to go to) McDonald's, the new experience they are delivering keeps me going back for more.  Having recently taken a couple late-night strolls into a McDonald's with some friends on the west side of Edmonton, I could not help but notice that the environment is really comfortable to be in for a long time.  People come in sit down and enjoy their time without the pressure of being told to leave; it’s a place where anyone can go.  But what have they changed?  The answer is quite obvious as McDonald's has drastically improved their environment and to a lesser extent their engagement through accessible technologies. [1]

In the early 2010s, McDonald's allocated about “$2.4 billion to redo at least 400 domestic outposts, refurbish 1,600 restaurants abroad, and build another 1,000.”[2] It demonstrated them taking initiative to transition from that fast-food experience that we all know of to a more dine-in experience similar to the feel given by Starbucks and I believe it’s working.  They have really put a lot of thought into the store layout, design, lighting and materials used.  The store layout and design is clean, modern and somewhat elegant for what a consumer typically perceives of McDonald's.   The design as shown by the pictures below has McDonald's taking a page out of IKEA’s books for style points.  


The layout is still essentially the same but ample sight lines to see across the whole restaurant and almost spaceship like shapes design aide in bringing in an open concept feel.  Also clean, smooth surfaces with flat yet bold colours really give McDonald's a face-lift.  Light fixtures also vary in form (ie hanging spot lights) but overall the lighting is brighter within the store. The seats are comfortable with either faux wood, plastic, or cushioned chairs that really give that comfort of a lounge.

In regards to consumer engagement, McDonald's are coupling their comfortable feel with the enhancement of technologies such as adding TVs and WiFi to most of their locations.  Having those technologies allow consumers to feel at home as they can take the basics gadgets with them and be ‘mobile’.  Knowing that they can stop at any McDonald's, and still be productive or plugged-in are value-adds that others do not offer and is something consumers would not typically perceive of the fast-food giant. Competing with experiences like those of Starbucks and other coffee shops[3], they are really creating this feel of comfort and I’m loving it. So is it really fast-food anymore? 

  1. Murray, Kyle B. (2013). The Retail Value Proposition: Crafting Unique Experiences at Compelling Prices. Toronto, Ontario; Rotman University of Toronto Press.
  2. http://www.fastcompany.com/1686594/making-over-mcdonalds
  3. http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/05/09/with-new-design-mcdonalds-aims-to-be-the-new-starbucks/
  4. http://freshome.com/2010/09/23/mcdonalds-redesign-a-new-era-for-fast-food-restaurants/

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