Can QSR Compete in a World Besotted with Bespoke?
I’ve received a number of Trend reports in recent days: Luxury, Cosmetics, Food and Alcohol. There’s a powerful through line that seems to be drawing a tightening noose ‘round the necks of Big Food, Big Beverage and Big QSR. We’re talking about the consumers’ emerging twin obsessions: Better for Me and Craft. For now, we’ll term the ensuing mash up “Crafted for Me.”
Oh Dear. Oh Dear. Whatever is McDonald’s to do? Caught in the crosshairs with a breaded, fried chicken sandwich they try to convince us is better than we think could come from the Brand, coupled with marketing that seems preternaturally fixated on bizarrely peppy Millennial spokespeople and crazy happy summertime drinks launched in September. Huh?
My colleagues and I were discussing this sad situation. We can’t quite shake the feeling that the 80 million millennial consumers in the US are exactly the ones driving the Crafted For Me juggernaut. So why try to get them to switch gears and pursue a daily Big Mac & Fries? In an effort to stop complaining about the chain, we offer two modest proposals:
#1: Let’s just posit that the heartbeat of McD’s is its endless appeal and excitement for kids. We’re talking about 73 million tiny citizens who are probably not counting calories, think the chicken nuggets actually are made just for them, love birthday parties and Happy Meals and somehow get how a clown can be a mascot for both French fries and seriously ill children.
The voice of experience here: When a six-year-old puts her hand in yours and asks to stop at McDonald’s after school, it’s more compelling than any ad. Aren’t you pleased to find a good cup of coffee awaits? Don’t you feel a frisson of the old elation to sneak a couple of her fries? Aren’t you reconsidering the menu and thinking perhaps it’s not soooo bad?
So our first thoughts: Focus on reminding millennial parents (yes they are evolving into that life stage) of the fun, anticipation and affordability of a dinner out with the wee ones. Give up the notion of the daily habitual and authenticate a resonate familial ritual. And, hey! serve some salads with that.
#2: But, if rather than going back to the future, McD’s wanted to leapfrog, then just consider: The big news in cosmetics are the brands seeking to break the genetic code and customize the exact right formulations for our skin, our life, our day today. The big news in beverages is the same. If Dr. Scholl’s can have machines in thousands of retailers to customize shoe inserts, couldn’t McD’s read my thumbprint and design a meal for my nutritional needs right now?
Come on, Big Brand: Lead, follow, or….