McDonald’s innovates with menu to get numbers

25 Apr,2012


By Tuhina Anand


Amit Jatia

Ordering at McDonald’s was a no-brainer a few years back, with limited menu option that included burgers, french fries, cola or a McSwirl. But in the last two years, there has been an increased focus on bringing in variety to the McDonald’s menu and one has seen the launch of breakfast menu, spicy delights and McFlurry among host of other new options available in the menu.


Explaining the rationale behind the revamped menu, Amit Jatia, Vice Chairperson McDonald’s India (West & South), said: “At McDonald’s our customers’ happiness is key in everything that we do. We aim to be relevant and offer various options to our customers. McDonald’s interacts with its customers through various platforms, be it customer feedback forms or surveys or select group discussions, all to ensure that we provide our customers with the highest quality products that are based on their feedback. McDonald’s also undertakes various innovations to provide its customers with quality products at affordable prices which are served fast and hygienically. Keeping in mind the customer needs, McDonald’s India has been very active with new menu and innovative campaigns.”


Giving an insight into the strategy that goes behind the menu revamp, Jatia said: “We aim to provide a wide variety of offerings with the newness in flavour. We take leadership in providing choice when the customer most needs it. For example, during the recession, to provide our customers with meal options that were cost-effective, we launched and still provide the Extra Value Meal menu which consists of a burger, medium fries and a medium coke.”


The fast food giant also believes in offering a wide variety of products such as the globally popular Chicken McNuggets, McFlurry a range of desserts introduced in 2011 and the recently introduced McFlurry Caramel as an addition to this range of products. There is also the Happy Price Menu starting at Rs25 to cater to the customers that would like a small bite that is cost effective.


McValue Lunch has been launched this year to provide the customers an extensive variety and choice of great quality products while being pocket friendly. Another addition to the menu is the Spice Fest that was launched on April 1 where a new twist to the menu has been introduced.


But does this increased thrust on the menu have to do anything with the jostling of space and new players in the QSR segment? As Jatia explained: “McDonald is a leader and pioneer in the QSR space inIndia, our innovations are based on our customers’ feedback and are an extension of our ‘I’m Lovin it’ experience. With regards to our menu innovations, we have a menu board that designs the new innovations that are tested and researched for a specific period of time before we introduce them in the market. We also conduct test launches to gauge customer reactions and feedback to our products before they can be introduced to a wider audience group.”


McDonald’s introduced its breakfast menu in October 2010 as part of its all day dining options. Initially launched in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore, breakfast menu is also available in Hyderabad today. With the launch of breakfast menu, McDonald’s is not only providing customers a completely new range of products, but is also open between 7-11am which is a brand new day part.


Talking on the McDelivery and why it isn’t as popular as the pizza companies, where home delivery form a key to their sales, Jatia said: “Asia is the only market where McDonald’s has a delivery option and this shows tremendous commitment for the market and potential to expand it more. With regards to delivery, since its launch our delivery service has grown by leaps and bound to now include a state-of the art 24×7 live call center as well as the recently launched web delivery option which is extremely user friendly. Keeping in mind, McDonald’s commitment to quality, the company has reduced the service to the neighborhood, which is up to 7 minutes away from the restaurant, from the earlier 10 minutes. The mapping of the delivery area is such that even during peak hours, customers receive orders that are hot and fresh.  McDonald’s has taken this proactive measure to ensure the quality of food is not compromised.”


On the advertising front too, McDonald’s has gone aggressive, especially the OOH medium. For the new Spice Fest advertising campaign, the company has tied up with their international ad director Nick, who has been working with McDonalds International on worldwide campaigns. “Again customers’ feedback plays a big role in the way we approach all our endeavours and in this regards the look and feel of this campaign has been made contemporary to relate to our customers on an international scale. The ad brings out the freshness of the ingredients used to create a world class amalgamation of mouth-watering products coming together as part of the Spice Fest. It starts with a fun face-off between three chefs from different countries like Africa, Asia and America, all trying to prove that their recipe is superior, while still coming together to produce a delicious feast for Spice Fest,” added Jatia.


Currently, McDonald’s India has 250 restaurants serving more than 6.5 lakh customers daily. In the South and West, there are approximately 150 restaurants. Their growth phase as Jatia explains can be broadly categorised as ‘Build, Grow, and Accelerate’. He divulges that McDonald’s India, and particularly Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt Ltd (the company which runs the McDonald’s business in western and southern India), has an aggressive expansion plan – including market expansion, new customer outreach formats and menu expansion.


McDonald’s (West and South) will be investing approximately Rs450 – 500 crore. “We’ve been opening new stores at a rate of 10-15 per cent and expect to increase that to 15 – 20per cent going forward. McDonald’s India (West & South) is expanding its reach by expanding the portfolio and access points with formats like from kiosks, drivethroughs, web delivery and petrol pumps in addition to the restaurant restaurants,” concluded Jatia.


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