Adapting to International Flavours – McDonalds

If you are expanding your business internationally you always have to adapt to the country you move to. Have this in mind for all parts of your business – legal issues, employees, financial environment and of course your product for a new target group. There are of course a lot more categories which have to be overviewed when your business is going abroad and I will talk about them in future posts. Of course this also is true for Global Players and since I was hungry and went to McDonald’s today I explored that they offer a Scorcher Peri Peri Burger(Chickenburger with spicy sauce) here in Australia which I have never seen in Germany or the US before. But enough with my taste for now.

In this post I want to introduce you to the way which McDonalds chose to meet local tastes and which strategies helped sometimes to change local tastes.

Canadian Branch of McDonaldsThere are over 33,000 McDonalds restaurants in almost 120 countries worldwide but the image of this company varies a lot. In the US and in Germany I have the feeling that McDonalds was seen as a cheap and easy way to get Fast Food and of course kids love to eat there. This changed a little bit with both the new healthier strategy, which includes advertisement which shows local producers of the ingredients or in different salad menus, and the new way to present the McDonalds restaurant together with a McCafe. In contrast to this I read in a lot of articles that McDonalds restaurants in China and Russia are admired for their great ambience and their cleanliness.

But especially in the food business it is difficult to adapt a Service company to the wide variations of local tastes. At its homepage it is said that they are not simply duplicating local favorite dishes but rather take familiar dishes and “put a McDonald’s twist on it.” The Chicago Tribune made a great overview of international dishes including pictures which you can find here.

Unfortunately I didn’t find everything the Chicago Tribune is writing about on the local McDonalds Menus and the dishes might only be offered by McDonalds within special topics for a certain time amount. With such topics McDonalds is respecting both the passion to give international dishes a trial and the regional taste of their customers as for example a Mexican week or a Bavarian week in Germany.

But during my search I found at least some local dishes which are as standard dishes on the menu:

  1. Taro Pie (Hongkong)
  2. Teppanyaki Chicken McGrill (Singapore)
  3. Chicken Maharaja-Mac (the Indian equivalent of the BigMac)
  4. McAlooTikky (India)
  5. WrapLibanaise (Morocco)
  6. CBO (Argentina)

On the other side there is one good example for standardized food at McDonalds. You can buy the BigMac almost everywhere (except for India). That was a reason for the Economist to have a different look on exchange rates and currencies so they introduced the BigMac Index. Here you can see how many BigMacs you get for $50 in different countries. (source: The Economist (January 2012))

This was my last post from Australia and I will go back to Germany with stopovers in Singapore (I might try the Teppanyaki Chicken McGrill) and Dubai within the next days. Since I visit those countries for the first time of my life I won’t write a post next week and I wish everyone, who is celebrating it, a happy pre-Christmas period.

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5 thoughts on “Adapting to International Flavours – McDonalds

  1. Very good article.

    Though I am not great fan of McDonald and KFC food, I always look for these joints the moment I land in any new country. If I spot any of these 2, I feel very assured that I will not go hungry as I am definite that I will find something in McDonald and KFC which I can definitely eat for surviving.

    I have also always admired the level of standardisation achieved by these 2 companies with units almost all over the globe. The even more admirable aspect for me is that they are able to maintain this consistently over the years.

    I first came across McDonald and KFC in 1995 when I stepped out of India for the first time to execute an assignment in Bangkok, Thailand.

  2. Thanks for liking my post about Jakarta, Marcus! Have you visited that metropolis before?

    The only thing I ever eat at a McDonald’s is in fact, the mainland Chinese taro pie (I thought Hong Kong had the sweet potato one and China had the taro one?). They always try to upsell, as if one wasn’t unhealthy enough, but that would be a conniving twist if McD’s in the US (in Chinatowns?) started to sell ’em…

    • No Worries. Unfortunately I haven’t been in Jakarta so far. The Taro Pie was on the HongKong Menu but it might just have been there for a certain time. How was the taro pie?

      Best wishes Marcus

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