McDonald’s: the world’s local restaurant


Have you tried a Ranch Snack Wrap or a Little Italian yet? Or a Little Chorizo Melt? Or an Oriental Snack Wrap? If you have, you are not alone. These exotic-sounding delights are all part of the “Little Tasters” menu, introduced by McDonald’s in Britain at the beginning of last year, in a carefully planned move.

The strategy addressed two key objectives — first, to tackle the impact of the recession on consumers by offering them a good-value item, between £1.49 and £1.59, which sat between the cheapest dishes on the McDonald’s menu and more expensive lines such as the Big Mac. The second part of the exercise was all about continuing to attract new and different customers to McDonald’s, particularly young mothers taking their kids to the restaurant, who might traditionally only have bought a tea or coffee because they were deterred by the idea of a larger portion.

In doing so McDonald’s was continuing a process, on which it embarked five years ago, to listen more to local consumers in Britain and act on what it heard. It is something McDonald’s has sought increasingly to do around the world. This month, the fast-food giant launched a “McItaly” burger, enthusiastically supported by Silvio Berlusconi’s government. Luca Zaia, the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, wrote to The Times last week after reports that the product had received a mixed reception there. Zaia pointed out that, on Wednesday alone, 100,000 of the burgers were sold. He added: “In Italy, we consider this a great success.”

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