The decision to purchase, use or consume the merchandise of a particular brand is not only a utilitarian decision that focuses on what goods a consumer wants, additionally it is a matter of the consumer's self image. The client asks himself, perhaps subconsciously, is he "the sort of person" who eats at McDonald's, or uses Bayer aspirin? After that, the client makes a decision to use, or not use, the merchandise. However, the answers to these questions are less than simple. They are simply intricately and intrinsically connected to brand image and perception. Consumers are willing to put more income and resources into things that make them feel good about themselves. Companies want to leave their customers feeling good about their purchasing decision, with an elevated self-image. However, why is a person feel great about herself changes as values and society change. A lot more than another industry, this can be true about food - English speakers have even an expression for it - "you are what you eat. "
For the last few years - since at least 2003 - junk food providers have been in an activity of trying to change consumer imagery of their brand. These brands - McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, are attempting to reposition themselves in the consumer mind as modern, and therefore, adapted to the concerns of the days and their consumers. Based on the trait theory in marketing, customers prefer brands that mach themselves. Their customers have changed their needs and goals, and the brands must reflect this change in thinking and motivation. This data response paper will first discuss the fast food companies' try to change their online marketing strategy from the framework of different marketing theories, then discuss how successful these attempts have been, and how many other information would be useful in evaluating their success.
The PESTEL analysis considers the numerous factors in the external environment. Businesses need to have a pro-active approach and become before these factors and upcoming changes.
The political environment for change in the junk food industry is rich, especially taking into consideration the social factors noted below. Recent social changes have brought the fast food industry under fire and more regulation by government agencies.
Because of the global recession, many middle income customers may be required to downgrade their lifestyles and eat junk food. A redesign can help them feel better about these buying decisions.
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, was a book released in 2001 by Eric Schlosser, an investigative journalist who spent 3 years investigating the fast food industry. In comparison to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, which showed the corruption of the meatpacking industry through the early 20th century, Fast Food Nation examines the local and global influence of america junk food industry. This book, and the movie that was manufactured from it, could even be blamed with starting this fast food revamp. In his detailed, angry portrayal of different aspects of the junk food industry, Schlosser pointed out the bond of fast food providers with American obesity, atrocities in the quality of meat, as well as condemned junk food provider's marketing towards children. Schlosser indicts fast food with the "malling [sic] of your landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity and propelled the juggernaut of American cultural imperialism abroad" (Adamson 2002). The junk food industry faced a public relations disaster, and accused Schlosser of fear mongering (Sagon 2001). In 2001, Schlosser said publically that he was optimistic about changes in the junk food market, and the junk food markets ability to affect change in the meatpacking industry. Since then, the fast food market has attempted to change its image dramatically. These recent redesigns are best understood in that longer arc.
The rising and falling of nutritionism as a value is also a significant factor in the food market generally, which certainly influences these major players. Nutritionism, defined by Michael Pollan as "the widely shared but unexamined assumption. . . that the main element to understanding food is definitely the nutrient" (2003) is big business. Compared to 50 years back, the average consumer today is verily obsessed with the "scientific" facts about whether a food is healthy for the kids. Pollan argues that simply using facts about individual nutrients exploits people's reductive bias into dividing the globe into bad and the good. Along with anti-globalization sentiment, this give attention to nutrition and health demonized the fast food companies. And today, Pollan leads an anti-food science movement, which some critics accuse to be quasi-religious. Due to either factor - both share the theory that health is tied to food intake - some of these restaurants have changed their menu as well as their look. Most of the junk food providers now sell salads, though they are often loaded with sugar (Marco 2007). A Wendy's Garden Sensations Mandarin Chicken Salad had more calories, more fat, more carbohydrates and even more sugar when compared to a Double Stack. The client feels good about themselves for eating a salad, but still feels full and good from eating that lots of calories, and moreover to the brand, is left with good feelings about their purchase.
Technologies are constantly evolving, which makes it cheaper to redesign and refurbish a couple of restaurants.
Pollan's work reflects a current growing trend within the food buying public - a care for the environment. There's a growing focus on local food, on whole foods, and on vegetables. The growing consensus is the fact more natural is healthier, so fast food providers are faced with the hard task of selling something that is highly processed to a person who wants to believe that they are really eating something that is healthy.
The numerous lawsuits against fast food restaurants, accusing them of adding to American obesity, develop a great opportunity for brand redesign.
Some of the articles relating to this phenomenon suggest that the brands are adapting to meet up with the needs with their original consumer base, who have now has gotten older as time has gone by. As these customers have gotten older, they have got updated their perception of themselves as they may have gotten more of a taste for additional dignified consumption, and want their consumption of the same fast food to fit in with their new perception of themselves and new preferences. Just what exactly has changed? Specifically, these fast food chains have changed their menus, their interiors, and exteriors. McDonald's has allocated $2. 4 billion to redo their stores in the U. S. and abroad (Paynter 2010).
This theory for the redesign - the aging consumer market - also explains the probability that other articles suggest - that the fast everyday market has elbowed itself in to the fast food market. Now Burger King, McDonald's, and Wendy's must contend with Panera's and Chipotle, and must adapt itself to be able to compete. The fast everyday market offers a slightly more formal environment and consumers perceive it as a healthier choice.
Specifically, fast food brands want to break out of their perceived place on the market as a food of final resort that is wholly bad for oneself. They want to be a food that's not only acceptable to eat in an emergency, that is known as comfortable, that a consumer would not be ashamed to be observed at. As Schlosser points out (2010), this reflects a certain cultural perception and construction of what fast food is, and what consumers the companies wish to look for. Though there is a dearth of available research in this area, the firms are inevitably choosing one culture's construction of junk food consumption over others.
The new concept is revolving around the idea of a community centre, a place for teenagers to hang out, changing the buyer perception of the brand personality itself. In order to have McDonald`s go with the trend of slow-food, that they had to get started on paying more attention to showcasing and the eating experience" (http://www. designwoo. com/2010/10/mcdonalds-redesign-a-new-era-for-fast-food-restaurants/). To that end, the brands are changing some very concrete reasons for having the buyer experience. The restaurants are changing their design. They may be shifting from bright florescent lights to softer, newer lights, a more home-like feel. Ironically, the fluorescent lights and bright colors that the brands which were first emblematic of the brands were in the beginning regarded as the scientific, modern colours of these day. They are going from red and yellow to terra cotta, olive and sage green. Colour schemes, specifically are highly variable and very emotion laden. Junk food providers are now shifting from bright, garish colours to more sleekly designed exteriors and interiors. One McDonald's in Manhattan even has a grand piano obvious from the street. This marketing technique may fit into the psychoanalytic theories of personality, appealing to both the id - delightful junk food, and the superego - it is something you should do.
The companies are also dividing the interior of the restaurants themselves up into different zones. This allows the company to divide their market and serve them somewhat independently. It allows them to serve customers bringing their laptops in throughout a break between meetings separately from mothers attracting their loud and rambunctious children. Market segmentation, predicated on differing demographics or traits of consumers, allows these businesses to help make the experiences of these consumer groups more attuned to what they specifically want, maximizing the consumer value for each and every consumer. This allows companies to more carefully target advertising and the consumer experience to a specific demographic.
Burger King is beginning to sell alcohol at some locations. This places it beyond your norm of what it has designed to be a fast food chain, forcing consumers to reassess how they fit the Burger King brand to their schema. This change also forces the buyer to focus on Burger King. There are many dangers in making big changes to a brandname. First, the brand can lose a loyal client base. Some customers may be enjoying what qualities already are present in regards to a brand, and when those ideas change, the clients may simply take their business elsewhere. Second, the brand may confuse customers by changing too much, too often, creating an information processing problem. Customers can only undergo a certain amount of learning about a brandname; too much changing information about a brand may cause customers to simply go with a purchasing decision that feels easy, not fraught with multiple ideas. Third, it can be better for a brandname to be divisive - to either inspire hate or love, rather than milder emotions. Controversy can drum up interest about a brand, causing visitors to try the product.
However, the restaurants appear to be walking along the right side of overwhelming their customers with new information. Interestingly, one of the McDonald's executives notes that, "when McDonald's puts enough refurbished stores in market, customers alter their perception of the brand: The brand new look even makes them more likely to try new menu items" (Paynter 2010). This fits well into the concept of consumer learning. The brand new look opens up consumer perceptions of the fast food chains, so they could ingest new information about menu items, trying new things and developing a new or initial positive attitude about the brand.
McDonald's executive Proud said the redesign was intended "to give our customers more of a reason to make McDonald's a destination" (http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/34019334/ns/business-us_business/). Many factors influence customers' attitude formation towards brands and companies. Customers' personal experience with the company influences their attitude, as well as close relatives and buddies of the customer. Advertisements can also influence the customers' attitude toward junk food.
Sometimes behaviour can precede a big change in attitude, as consumers struggle to bring their attitude in line with their behaviour. The cognitive dissonance theory within psychology, brought into marketing concept shows that discomfort results when people hold two conflicting thoughts in their mind at the same time. Quite simply, they have to overcome the approach-avoidance conflict in motive arousal. Here, individuals are faced with the one idea that they are cool, that they are worried about their health, however they are enjoying fast food. They are simply forced with aligning their actual, ideal, and social self -images. They are able to thus try to bring those thoughts into alignment with one another, which is easier to accept the theory that junk food may, in fact, be healthy. The brand new redesign, bringing McDonald's appearance up to date with other areas of their customers' lives, also helps it be simpler to form new attitudes about fast food. The customers are already motivated to want to change their attitude toward fast food, to justify their purchases, and the redesign provides them for the "reason" they can attribute toward the attitude change.
This idea is also reflected by the quote by McDonald's executive Don Thompson, "People eat with their eyes first. When you have a restaurant that is appealing, contemporary, and relevant both from the street and interior, the meals tastes better" (Paynter 2010). This may literally be true, given recent research into how brand perceptions affect people's enjoyment of consumption (Gino, Norton & Ariely, 2010). The redesign is thus both intended to bring clients into McDonald's, but also to keep appealing to their old client base.
How successful have attempts to improve consumer thinking been so far? Generally, it is a lot simpler to change consumer perceptions of established products and brands towards worst. One only must note the ferocity where brands protect their image to comprehend precisely how important this is. However, some brands have gone contrary to the wisdom of the market experts and shown turn-around in consumer attitudes toward their brand.
Some articles report a rise in sales by fast food providers who are attempting to change their image. McDonald's reports a 6-7% sales increase at US stores that contain been redesigned; in the last year they may have tested stores in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Kearney, Missouri (Paynter 2010). Stock prices have gone up 437% since 2003, when McDonald's "Plan To Win" growth strategy was initiated. This might reflect some degree of success in their endeavour. Certainly the cheerful tone of these articles indicates that the restaurants have confidence in their own success. The restaurants attribute the change, first initiated in McDonald's European and Asian branches and McDonald's, as beginning to see success. McDonald's attributes a 5. 2% rise in second-quarter sales to the redesign of the restaurants. Burger King also plans to redesign its 12, 000 locations with a far more modern, commercial design (http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/34019334/ns/business-us_business/). The articles about the fast-food redesign do not mention an important factor in evaluating the efficacy of the redesign. The effects of the global recession are myriad. Many families and people have less disposable income than before. Junk food sales may simply rise because eating fast food is a simple way of rewarding oneself, instead of buying another consumable or venturing out to consume at a pricier restaurant. The redesign of the restaurants may in fact help ameliorate the conflicted feelings of middle class consumers who must now eat at the places that they might not before.
To deeper understand the actual effect of the redesign, more information and statistics would be needed - obtaining a sense of the fast food market over the last few years, and also other markets, to see how they were affected by the global recession, as well as the increase since the redesign (and the concurrent recession).