McDonald’s stands out as one of the biggest global fast food retailer offering fast foods in more than 119 countries all over the globe. McDonald’s restaurants and franchises, which stand at about 33, 500 continue to grow as the organization penetrates new markets in Asia.
This immense success of McDonald’s is attributed to several factors among them being its incredible emphasis on the engagement of consumers, an appropriate leadership that fits well with the business of the organization, and its exceptional investments of the organizational resources to enhance successful marketing planning.
This paper focuses on discussing various aspects that are necessary for inclusion in marketing planning for a fruit salad as a new product at McDonald’s.
Changing Pattern in Marketing Planning at McDonald’s
McDonald’s has experienced a myriad of changes in its operational environment especially by noting that there has been an increasing emphasis on the need of changing the current eating behaviors to avoid the danger of health risks associated with eating unhealthy foods. Health specialists classify foods containing high calories such as fast foods, which form the menus of McDonald’s, as unhealthy.
Campaigns that have been incepted by health organizations against such products result in the emergence of demand for foods, which are fiber rich. For this purpose, creativity and innovation are necessary for the effort to come up with new products that meet the emerging need of customers.
This effort is directly congruent with the efforts of marketing planning since it encompasses “the process of developing and implementing a plan to identify, anticipate, and satisfy customer demands, in such a way to make a profit” (Simon 2007, p.124). Consequently, McDonald’s focuses on various mechanisms of ensuring that it provides healthy foods in its menus based on how it reflects such changes in its marketing plans.
Such changes in its marketing planning of the company are important to ensure that the company continues to be the overall market leader for fast foods. A particular product that the company should reflect in its changing marketing planning is to incorporate fruits salad in the menu.
Any marketing effort needs to leave remarkable indentations in the minds of the target audience in the effort to create a strong brand image, especially while attempting to introduce new products. Hence, an organization must use different and new marketing plans whenever it attempts to introduce a new product (Simon 2007: Yelkur 2000).
Faced with the dynamics of changing marketing planning, McDonald’s has to deal with the challenge of building clientele for new products, especially where the new products introduced in the market are unpopular and inconsistent with the brand image of the company. McDonald’s has the capability to deal with this challenge as evidenced by its efforts to handle and protect its brand image
From the above argument, McDonald’s pays substantive attention to protect her brand image by responding to negative critics of the company’s products, particularly with criticisms that fast foods are closely associated with obesity and its associated ailments.
As part of its marketing strategies, the company also focuses on “repositioning itself to appeal to a broader audience, particularly by redesigning its outlets and making them more modern, comfortable, and upscale” (Wilhelm 2011 Para.2).
In this extent, brand management and brand protection are one of the strategies used by McDonald’s to enhance its success in a competitive and dynamic fast food business with the need for changing market-planning strategies.
Marketing Environment for McDonald’s
Organizations do not operate as lone entities. Therefore, an organization is influenced by a variety of factors, which affect its operation and hence its profitability. Such factors emanate either externally or internally within an organization.
In an attempt to develop a successful marketing plan, it is crucial to conduct a thorough analysis of these internal and external factors that affect the operation of an organization. One of the ways of realizing this goal is to conduct a PESTLE analysis of an organization.
Several factors affect the decisions made by McDonald’s. From the PEST EL organizational analysis approach, these factors are political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal factors (Gerry, Kevan & Whittington 2005, p.105). For McDonald’s, the political environment affects the operations of the company via taxing policies since the organization must pay taxes from its profits.
The management must also comply with environmental regulations, tariffs, employment laws established within various nations where the company has established company-owned stores, and franchises. The main challenges of the company are that these policies are different in different nations. McDonald’s has no control over them in the effort to have harmonized financial budgeting and forecasting.
From the perspective of economic factors, the operational, economic environment of McDonald’s is characterized by intensive competition and influx of new products that are introduced by new organizations seeking to acquire part of McDonald’s market share. Social factors act as immense success aspects of McDonald’s.
The company promises its customers a consistent provision of fast foods that not only meet their needs but also foods that are served in hygienic outlets. Hence, enhancing utmost hygiene in the food service helps in retaining and attracting new clients as people are becoming intensively concerned about their eating habits and the cleanness of the environment in which foods are prepared and served.
Technology is yet an important factor that McDonald’s believes is central to its long-term success. The company handles a large chunk of information relating to purchases, sales, and even workforce data.
With the ever-changing technology, the company encounters challenges of increased costs of learning businesses that are articulated to the needs of keeping software application updated in the effort to ensure that the organization remains competitive in terms of its effectiveness in handling all its information.
McDonald’s is also immensely concerned about its environmental impacts. For take away foods, McDonald’s must wrap foods for customers. The manner of disposal of these wrapping is an issue of great concern to the company especially since the company operates in nations that have different policy frameworks to guide in the disposal of products and product-associated wastes.
For instance, operating in the UK market requires McDonald’s to comply with the recently established legislation on minimum wages and legislation requiring firms to recycle their wastes as a measure of being environmentally green. Such legal provisions have the impact of raising the costs of running the business of McDonald’s.
Barriers to Marketing Planning at MacDonald’s
The noble function of marketing planning is to ensure an organization develops effective strategies for gaining competitive advantage. This effort is done to ensure an organization remains profitable amid the changing market environments. However, in the effort to develop successful marketing planning, organizations encounter various barriers. These factors or elements hinder the success of developed marketing planning strategies.
According to Menon et al. (1999), marketing planning barriers include “inadequate management support, failure to coordinate and comply with plans, and the failure to understand customers’ needs” (p.31).
In the effort to ensure that marketing planning adopted by an organization is effective in realizing its objectives, an organization also attempts to overcome barriers such as improper communication management, inability to manage change properly, and the incapacity to make an accurate prediction of the environmental responses to the enacted marketing planning strategies.
Successful placement of new products in the market requires the hefty expenditure of organizational resources to carry out marketing and garnering information on the responses of customers to product placement campaign efforts. Unfortunately, some organizations encounter the challenge of underestimating the resources that are required for the success of a given marketing planning strategy.
The purpose of conducting an evaluation of a marketing planning strategy adopted by an organization is to ensure that barriers to effective marketing planning are identified in good time, with measures being taken to overcome them. For instance, overcoming poor communication barriers can be effected through the enactment of effective communication processes.
This strategy entails scrapping one-way bureaucratic communication process and adopting the two-way communication process. In the two-way communication process, information flows from top to down and then down to top so that the top most communication personnel can identify the effectiveness of the communication strategies within an organization.
Where miscommunication occurs, effective strategies are taken to correct misunderstandings, which might have negative implications on the brand image of new products to the customer. For McDonald’s, communication is perhaps one of the major barriers anticipated to be faced in the development of a marketing plan for the proposed new addition to the menus of the organisation since the company has a bureaucratic management structure.
SWOT Analysis for Marketing Planning of the Chosen Product
As argued before, this paper proposes the introduction of fruit salads as an additional product offered at all McDonald’s stores and franchises in the effort to meet new customers’ needs for healthy eating. However, for the viability of this idea and the marketing plans of the new products, SWOT analysis of the products needs to be conducted. The aim is to determine whether McDonald’s has the capacity to place the products in the market.
SWOT analysis involves strategic a planning approach for evaluating the strengths, limitations, and opportunities coupled with the threats that business establishment encounters (Hill & Westbrook 1997, p.47).
The main aim of conducting a SWOT analysis for a marketing plan is to ensure that threats are turned around to become opportunities to ensure that weaknesses become strengths. Strengths are the traits that enable an organization to have an advantage in comparison to other organizations (Hill & Westbrook 1997, p.47).
At McDonald’s, the marketing plan’s objective is to instill a strong belief that, by including fruit salads as an additional product to be served alongside the regular hamburgers and other products offered by McDonald’s, the company has responded to calls for people to embrace good eating habits. The strength of this plan is that McDonald’s has already built a strong brand image.
Hence, the inclusion of the product is a further indication of the company’s flexibility to meet the need of its customers. Many people also consider McDonald’s as offering hygienically prepared products.
Therefore, customers are anticipated not to question the hygienic and quality aspects of the fruits salad. Where refrigeration facilities are required, the company has adequate of these facilities. Even if it were necessary to acquire more, the financial position of the company would permit such an endeavor.
Although the above strengths that can favor the success of the proposed product, it has some weakness. Weakness or limitations are the traits of an organization that place it at a disadvantage in comparison with other organizations in the same industry (Hill & Westbrook 1997, p.47). One of McDonald’s subtle weaknesses is its bureaucratic structure. This structure may affect its effective communication of strategies of executing a marketing plan for the product.
Opportunities are the existing external chances, which while utilized make an organization improve its performance (Hill & Westbrook 1997, p.49).
One of the major opportunities for the success of the product is the increasing number of people who are becoming cautious about their eating habits in the effort to avoid health risks that are associated with unhealthy eating behaviors. People are also becoming concerned about how foods are served. McDonald’s has a big score in all these issues.
The last aspect essential in SWOT analysis of the marketing plan for the proposed new product is a threat. Threats are the external chances that impair the performance of an organization (Hill & Westbrook1997, p.49). One of the threats of McDonald’s is the external competitive market force. In response to the needs for healthy eating, almost all fast food organizations are responding by incorporating healthy meals in their menus.
Thus, it is also likely that fruit salads would get into the menus of the McDonald’s competitors. This would create pressure on profit margins of the company especially in some locations where competition is intense.
Marketing Strategy based on Marketing Mix Variables
Marketing mix embraces the various choices that organizations make to ensure that their products or services are availed to the market (place) at the right price and using the appropriate promotional strategies (Menon et al. 1999, p.19). McDonald’s needs to develop a new product.
The justification for this argument is based on the current increasing concerns and campaigns against poor eating habits. Realization of this goal has made McDonald’s conduct brand exploratory to determine how customers perceive its products.
Marketing mix for the product (fruit salad) encompasses four mains aspects: place, price, promotion, and the product. New products are innovated and designed to meet the emerging needs of consumers especially with higher concerns of healthy eating.
Introducing products, which meet the definition of healthy food, is instrumental in enhancing the success of McDonald’s considering that high-calorie foods are associated with diabetes and its associated ailments such as hypertension. The place of sale of the products is in all McDonald’s franchises and company-owned stores. This place is justified by the fact that healthy eating is an issue of global concern.
Additionally, McDonald’s developed a franchise business model to ensure that the products and services offered at the franchises are consistent with the services offered at the company-owned restaurants. Failure to offer the products at all the places where McDonald’s brand presence is felt is tantamount to breach of this strong brand positioning strategy pursued by the company.
In most instances, potential customers of McDonald’s receive information about the need to shun from the consumption of fast foods from the internet and social media. Consequently, these issues form some of the promotional media that the company should give first consideration. In fact, through these techniques, it is also possible to reach a large number of people globally with minimal expenditure of McDonald’s financial resources.
This strategy is the case especially for social media since the customers themselves share the promotional information.
Point of sale promotion is also an additional cost-effective promotional technique. In the case of price, McDonald’s has many franchises and company-owned stores. It can take advantage of economies of scale to pursue the low-cost strategy to counter the competition from other organizations that may introduce fruit salads in their menus.
Ethics in Marketing
Marketing calls for a large number of people to work together in a teamwork environment. During this activity, people are guided by codes of actions that define what needs to be done during the marketing and what should not be done. Although it is important that marketers should place their products with success in the market, it is a violation of the marketing code of ethics to deceive in an attempt to make a sale.
All marketing efforts must then ensure that the target audience gains the greatest good from the products being sold. According to Simon (2007), ethics issues in marketing refer to “principles and standards that define acceptable conduct in the market place” (p.128).
They comprise all practices, which can result in the greatest happiness among all people. Some of the marketing practices that are considered unethical include attempts, which are openly meant to deceive and take advantage of a given situation for individualistic or group gains.
How the Consideration of Consumer Ethics affects Marketing Planning
In marketing planning, a myriad of issues is considered including decisions on products that are offered in the market for sale, the place where they are to be sold, pricing, and even techniques of promotion. In this process, marketing ethical aspects are crucial in every stage of marketing planning strategy (Menon, 1999). From the dimension of consumers, consideration of consumer ethics influences marketing planning.
Any marketing effort must deliver value to them. For instance, in the case of the fruit salad product proposed for McDonald’s, it is unethical to market the product claiming that it is a healthy food while it comprises calorie additions. Any attempt to solicit consumers to purchase products with intentions of deceiving them in terms of abnormal pricing of products or through selling poor utility products is considered an unethical act of marketing.
In market planning, for instance, when attempting to place a new product as part of consumer ethics, an organization must evaluate the capacity of the new product to meet the needs of consumers. The argument here is that goods and services offered for sale must deliver utmost good to consumers.
Another important aspect of consumer ethics that influences marketing planning is the manner of products or service representations. In this regard, Yelkur (2000) asserts that ethical marketing seeks to determine whether factual and honest representations of a product are executed in a manner that is consistent with social values and cultural framework (p.112).
This argument means that, in market planning, the need to take into account customers’ ethics calls for designing marketing planning strategies in socially responsible ways.
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