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McDonald’s International Product Adaptation

McAloo Tikki Burger anyone? Only in India. McSpaghetti? Only in the Philippines. McDonald’s has restaurants all around the world. It has learned to serve this global market by adapting its menu to local tastes. Here I summarize an article and embed a video that you and/or your students can read/watch. Then I suggest how the ideas can be used in your classroom.

McDonald’s boasts a vast international menu catering to the tastes and preferences of customers from various countries. This Business Insider article highlights unique McDonald’s items available outside the US, capturing the interest of food bloggers and tourists alike. Among the showcased items are Italy’s Panzerotti – pastries filled with tomato and mozzarella, India’s Maharaja Mac – a non-beef variant of the Big Mac made with chicken patties and flavored with jalapeño and habanero sauce, Switzerland’s McRaclette which combines beef, pickles, onions, and traditional raclette cheese, and Australia’s Big Brekkie Burger – a hearty combination of beef patties, hash brown, cheese, bacon, and an Egg McMuffin-style egg. Other intriguing offerings include twisty pasta dishes from Hong Kong, the Samurai Macs from Japan, Taro Pie from China, and a unique Chicken Foldover from South Africa.

For a nice explanation of the strategy and interviews with McDonald’s insiders, watch this Wall Street Journal explainer video, “McSpaghetti? How McDonald’s Crafts Its Country-Exclusive Menus.” The video is part of the Journal’s fine “Economics of” series.

Using this article and video in your marketing class

I will once again thank ChatGPT for offering some ideas about how to use this in a marketing classroom. As usual, the AI offers some good and not-so-good ideas, but I only offer you the best here.

  1. Global Product Adaptation: (Chapter 8) Discuss the concept of product adaptation in international marketing. Highlight how McDonald’s customizes its offerings based on cultural, dietary, and taste preferences of different regions.
  2. Brand Consistency vs. Localization: (Chapter 8 and Bonus Chapter 2) Engage students in a debate or discussion on the balance between maintaining a consistent global brand image and localizing products for specific markets.
  3. Consumer Behavior Analysis: (Chapter 5) Assign students to research and compare consumer behaviors, dietary habits, and cultural preferences in the countries mentioned in the article. This can give insights into why certain products were introduced in specific markets.
  4. Market Research Exercise: (Chapterr 7) Organize a group activity where students design a new menu item for McDonald’s, targeting a specific country or region. They should justify their choices based on cultural and market research.
  5. Case Study on Failed Products: (Chapter 9) While this article highlights successful adaptations, it can be enlightening to study instances where McDonald’s (or other brands) misjudged a market, leading to product failures.

Incorporating such activities and discussions can help students grasp the complexities and nuances of international marketing and the importance of understanding local cultures and preferences.

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