Brave new world for McDonald’s

mcdonaldsMcDonald’s Create Your Taste menu is the, “most transformative experience” the fast food giant has gone through in recent years, according to McDonald’s digital experience lead for APMEA, Daniel Lee.

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Now that it is embedded, the fast food chain looking to take the Create Your Taste menu model to scale after first rolling it out in Australia.

Speaking at the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) Global Forum in Sydney last week, Lee said the Create Your Taste model, where customers build their own gourmet burger using digital ordering kiosks, is changing the perception of McDonald’s food.

First launched in Australia, McDonald’s Australian arm has been at the forefront of new initiatives being tested, including new ‘hipster’ designed cafes, home delivery, and the relaunch of its loose change menu, all in an effort to turn its fortunes around and reinvent its image.

Throughout the rollout, McDonald’s Australia has managed to the buck the sales trend of its international counterparts. In June, McDonald’s Australia posted 10 consecutive months of positive sales numbers, while in the US, which counts for 40 per cent of business, the chain has suffered declining sales for the past three years. Now, McDonald’s is looking to replicate these Australia-based initiatives, with Create Your Taste starting to roll out in the US.

According to Lee, the DIY, five-step burger process is driving up average meal costs, and “finally” giving McDonald’s positive traction on social media, a channel the burger giant has continually struggled with in the past. Assisting the service is the use of self-ordering kiosks instore.

“What we have found is that people are now starting to ‘own’ their burger, and the big screen also helps with the whole appetite appeal. It doesn’t look anywhere near as delicious [ordered on a smartphone] as it does on a 20-30-inch screen. This technology is not new, but where McDonald’s is taking this is that we’re aiming to take this to scale,” said Lee.

This new ordering format has led McDonald’s to rethink the design of its stores. Lee said McDonald’s is trying to make the entire customer experience at restaurants “as frictionless as possible”, with its ‘store of the future’ model set to feature secondary counters for pre-order pick ups, and wireless charging stations.

In France, all McDonald’s stores are fitted with self-ordering kiosks and are now used for more than a third of total lunchtime orders. Looking to replicate a similar model here, Lee said the introduction of more kiosks, will lead to a reduction of cashiers, who can then be deployed on the floor as wait staff.

Selected restaurants in Australia already offer table service, and McDonald’s announced last week that it would offer launch the service for the first time in the UK at a restaurant in Manchester, with the system to be extended to 11 more stores across the country this week, if successful.

“The experience of having a store that you walk up to and see one, two, three, four cash registers, that will probably cease to exist in the near future. It’s more likely to be one or two [cash registers]. You order at one and the other is replaced with kiosk.”

Drive through revamp
Drive through is also set to for a revamp. Drive through currently represents more than 50 per cent of revenue in some markets, including Australia, with McDonald’s now considering mobile pre-ordering.

“If you’ve ever been through a  drive through, it’s probably the same style of drive through that we’ve had since the 1970s.

“Drive through is super important. If we can make that process as efficient and as a smooth as possible, we know that’s going to be even more successful. We think it’s a good model, but a better model is coming.”

McDonald’s has also launched a new app, however, it’s yet to make its way to Australia. Lee said a new version on the My Maccas app is on its way, but could not confirm a release date. The app will attempt to streamline ordering, delivery, and payment for the user, as well as be linked to McCafe and host games such as digital monopoly.

McDonald’s is also hoping its app will give it better insights into its customers and their behaviour, admitting its ample data so far had remained anonymous.

“The transformation that McDonald’s going though is from mass marketing to one to one at scale. When I say ‘at scale’, we serve around 70 million customers a day.”

By customers using the app to order, McDonald’s can start to accumulate customer profiles and be able to explore new technologies, such as location-based offerings.

Delivery is still a relatively new area for McDonald’s, however it has already become a billion dollar business for the fast food chain, and isnow larger than McCafe. Lee says the service enables McDonald’s to become an, “anytime, anywhere experience”.

Available in 25 markets, McDonald’s Australia was the first Western market to launch McDelivery, at its North Parramatta store, in Sydney, in November 2013. It has since rolled out the concept, available through MenuLog, to locations across NSW, Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia.

“We’ve had 60 years of great success and now we’re looking for the next 60 years of success. There’s a long way to go but we’re having fun and it’s an exciting time. The future is looking interesting.”

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