Originally Posted by donnacha
Actually, I'd say quite the opposite and suggest that McDonalds' reluctance to truly embrace the changing dietary requirements of the public is a classic case of an organization being too committed to an long-held ideology to see that their future depends
upon being more flexible.
The big story about McDonalds over the last decade or so has been the rage of franchise-owners who feel they have been sold a pup by the main company. With sales spiraling, the franchise-owners have been dismayed by the company's inability to follow rapidly changing tastes. Whether it was the surge in gourment coffee or people beginning to realize that eating a little better made them feel a lot better, McDonalds managed to miss every trend and fashion, sticking doggedly to a formula that only manages to remain chugging along due to the total abuse of restaurant staff, factory workers, small suppliers and franchise-owners who, back when Ronald McDonald was riding high, paid top-dollar to buy into the McDonalds dream.
Actually, you will find that many franchise owners were just as upset with McD's making too many menu changes, and expanding the menu past the basics that they felt were the money-makers. Many also felt changing was not a bad thing, but that changes should be focused and not swing with slight changes in demand. For example, staying away from gourmet coffee is good for many locations, as the costs involved would be too high for the small increase in sales possibly generated.
Did McD's miss some trends? Possibly. Is missing short-term trends a bad thing in the long run? I would say no, as would many restaurant executives.
McD's has reacted to the healthier eating-trend, as this one has shown to have staying power. However, McD's core market has been, and will remain, kids. Adding some items to make it a little more praent friendly has already been paying dividends.
The good old boys in McDonalds HQ regards vegetarianism with about the same horror as communism and these are deeply ingrained prejudices - they genuinely don't understand that a huge and growing number of people can simply no longer eat the stuff they sell. Unfortunately for McDonalds, their entire mass-production, mass-distribution model depends upon selling lots of products to lots of people - if, say, just 10% of a restaurant's existing customers drift away, well, that 10% might very well be the cream, their actual profit after the other 90% of their intake covers their day-to-day costs. In those circumstances, the franchisee undoubtedly asks himself what he can possibly do to stop that 10% from drifting away. You can bet he knows the answer isn't yet another movie tie-in. If little Clarissa or Boris want to buy salads and veggie burgers, McDonalds doesn't have a choice, they have to accommodate them, if only to stop their dollars giving oxygen to the local competition. It's amazing, a true anomoly of capitalism, that they haven't yet realized this.
The "good old boys" at McD's are quite aware their food does not reach out to all markets, and except for some minor changes, are willing to live with that. News flash - veg*ns are still a subgroup of the health food segment, and neither group is particularly inclined to eat fast food. Neither is a target market. The strategy of adding healthier alternatives to serve mom'n'pop when they grab a Happy Meal for junior does create an inroad to this market. If those sales are strong, expect McD's to incorporate more items of this nature, although I would still expect to see few vegan items.
Overall, as a stockholder, I believe McD's started on the road to long-term growth about 18 months ago, and from what I have seen, they are still on the same path. I would add that veg*ns need to quit kidding themselves about how influential of a market we are in the fast food business.