Call It What You Will, McDonald's Garners Loyalty

Why would McDonald’s want to go messing with a brand name that is consistently rated as one of the world’s most powerful and, a new survey says, has the qualities that best drive loyalty to quick-service restaurants? On the surface, that’s what it may seem to be doing by renaming 13 outlets ”Macca’s,” which is the Aussie equivalent of Mickey D’s. In reality, concludes Mark Wembridge in today’s Financial Times, if you think of it as an effective publicity stunt, “fair dinkum.”

The Sydney Daily Telegraph broke the story a couple of weeks ago when Carleen Frost reported that the fast-food chain was changing the signage in the lead up to Australia Day on Jan. 26.

"We've been a part of Australia for over 40 years now and we're incredibly proud to embrace our 'Australian-only' nickname," chief marketing officer Mark Lollback told Frost about the “Australianism” of the name. "What better way to show Aussies how proud we are to be a part of the Australian community than change our store signs to the name the community has given us?” he asks.

A McDonald’s spot celebrating Aussie slang that “features characters like Gazza, Stevo, Hawko and Simmo all enjoying Macca's” can be seen here

"Being given a nickname in Australia is one of the ultimate compliments, so when we were asked to create a campaign for Australia Day, we thought why not celebrate this by not only acknowledging the nicknames Aussies give each other, but also the one Australia has given McDonald's -- Macca's,” says Cam Hoelter, DDB Australia creative director. "From the smallest crew member name tags, to national TVCs, right up to physically renaming the famous Golden Arches signs right around the country to ‘Macca's,’ this idea runs fluently across all touch points…” 

The company has also requested that Macca’s be listed in the Macquarie Dictionary, according to a story in the Herald Sun last month. "Nearly 55% of Australians refer to McDonald's as Macca's,” Lollback told Melissa Matheson at the time. "We're the second-most recognized abbreviation after footy.''

McDonald’s also announced last week that its carry-out bags and fountain beverage cups will feature QR codes providing access to nutrition information. 

“The new packaging is designed to communicate brand stories in an engaging and modern way,” according to a press release. “A blend of text, illustrations and a QR code will deliver interesting facts about the brand and make nutrition information easily accessible from mobile devices.”

The rollout has begun in the U.S. and will be translated into 18 languages throughout 2013.

Meanwhile, a Restaurant DemandTracker survey finds that for quick-service restaurant habitués, “the most important factors that drive loyalty to a brand are good value and convenience, with low prices and quick-service being very important as well,” according to David Decker, president, Consumer Edge Insight, which conducted the study. “McDonald’s has a clear image lead on all of these factors, with Subway consistently being the second-best performing brand and Burger King and Wendy’s also performing well.”

Great-tasting food is only the eighth-most important factor in driving loyalty in this segment, Food Product Design points out.

McDonald’s is No. 7 overall in the Interbrand Best Global Brand 2012 rankings released in October, second only to overall champion Coca-Cola in the food and beverage category. 

The brands in the category are “high-wire acts,” according to an analysis by Interbrand’s Bill Chidley, that “amaze us with their spectacular abilities to delight our senses and entertain us as they always seem one slip away from disastrously negative media coverage.” They also “are perhaps the world’s most aggressive marketers as a group,” he goes on, driven by the “imperative” to “continually attract new consumers into their categories and, of course, to their specific brands.”

Increasingly, this means listening to the conversations that “are driving the images and perceptions of brands” and focusing on “understanding” and “engaging with consumers, and even changing course if a product or practice proves to be unpopular.” Witness McDonald’s “renewing the brand experience in its aged fleet of restaurants in the U.S. as it simultaneously tries to appeal to new mothers and silence critics with a healthier Happy Meal.”

McDonald’s Corp. is the top fast food purveyor in Australia, by the way, with a 2011 share of 26% in the total fast food category and 78% in burger fast food, according to Euromonitor International. Macca’s On Top Down Under, you might say.

Tags: qsr, restaurants
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