Product Analysis Essay : Fast Food Restaurant, The McDonald’s Case
Product analysis is a critical topic in the area of business marketing. The process is considered to take various forms, but the most important one is done through asking questions on the product or services that are produced in any given industry, with the aim of gaining insight from the answers obtained. Other forms of product analysis may take the form of carrying out evaluations of the general members of the public. On that note, it is critical to note that both products and services that are offered by business entities can be subject to the analysis or evaluation. Additionally, the process can be carried out at any given stage of a product design. The results of a product analysis are important when it comes to making improvements in an existing product or service. The paper will seek to conduct its evaluation of the fast food service as is in the present times. The personal experience case that will function as the reference point of the study will be the fast food services that are offered at the McDonald’s restaurant, in the US.
Specific Examples of the Service Based on the 4p’s of Marketing
The fast food industry is characterized by its competitive nature, to the extent that companies have resorted to identifying strategies that function to foster customer retention (Razaka, AzleenBteIliasb, and Siti 1). Customer factors, according to Razaka, AzleenBteIliasb, and Siti (1) are imperative in measuring the success and growth of a firm. McDonald’s knows all too well the role that consumers have on the growth and overall success of a company. On that note, it is essential to understand that in the bid for McDonald’s to address the business concerns in the differential markets that exist, it employs the use of a marketing mix. The market mix components that are of critical importance in the study take note of the product, pricing, promotion and place, commonly termed as the 4p’s marketing communication mix (Meyer 1). The mix is aimed at offering communication to the target groups of its consumer market (Meyer 1). It is crucial to note that the communication mix that is employed by McDonald’s is evidence by being flexible to the extent that it can change to suit the various market demands (Meyer 1).
The examples of specific services that are offered by McDonald’s and which are in accordance with the four communication marketing mix are as noted below.
The examples of fast food meals that are offered by the McDonald’s range from fries, hamburgers, sandwiches, fish, chicken, beverages, shakes and snacks, just to mention a few. The fast food restaurant is well known for the delicious burgers that it offers to its consumers. The company, according to Meyer (1), is up to the task when it comes to the expansion of its product mix, through time. The restaurant allows for its consumers to have access to a wide range of its fast food services and, as a result, tends to evoke the interest of its clientele base which is always ready to explore new fast food service options. Even in the wake of innovation, the company is noted to offer high-quality service which is necessary for consumer attraction and subsequent retention. The restaurant is, therefore, at the top of its game when it comes to high-quality product innovation, which is essential in the fast food service.
The pricing component is a basic marketing mix, which according to Membe and Maria (16) requires inputs from elements like; list prices, discounts, forms of payment and credit terms, which allow for reaching to the target market. The pricing regimen that is utilized in the McDonald’s restaurant is one that offers a combination of both the bundled pricing and psychological one as well. The restaurant offers the examples of products bundles in the form of discounts. Additionally, under the psychological pricing strategy, the company sells its products using prices that appear to be somewhat cheaper. In such scenarios, the company has been noted to attract consumers by using figures that are not rounded off to the nearest dollar amount; rather, it uses price figures like $2.99, to create the impression that the products are rather cheaper or affordable. The use of the aforementioned pricing strategies is imperative for attracting and retaining its highly esteemed clientele.
Under the promotional strategy, elements like personal selling, advertisement, sales promotion and direct marketing are fundamental in reaching to the target market (Membe 1). The McDonald’s fast food restaurant is aware of the fact that promotional activities are necessary when it comes to the attraction of consumers give that it uses these strategies spark the interest of potential customers (Meyer 1). In the search to penetrate to the customers, McDonald’s uses promotional facilities like advertisements, direct selling, publicities and promotions in sales (Meyer 1). McDonald’s heavies its representation in the form of advertisements by the use of electronics like televisions, radios, and the online content. In addition to the wide usage of electronically centered advertisements, the company also incorporates the use of print media in its promotional activities. Also, the restaurant uses the promotional tools like discounts and sales promotions, in the bid to attract consumers. The PR that is exemplified by the company is essential when it comes to attraction of more customers. The company engages in charities and sustainable development programs, which are not only critical in the instigation of sustainability and social responsibility, it is also essential in fostering corporate brand and reputation that further promotes brand loyalty, which is an important marketing tool. Direct selling, a marketing tool used by McDonald’s, is used in marketing to the clientele in the corporates and local government. It is notable that the McDonald’s is committed to actively promoting its product far and wide, for penetration to its existing and new consumers.
The place mix takes note of elements like location, coverage, distribution media, logistics and inventory (Membe and Maria 16). Meyer (1) affirms that the McDonald’s is a central base for the distribution of the company’s fast food services. The physical product distribution centers include: restaurants, drive through inns and food kiosks. The company restaurants are the core revenue generating sites (Meyer 1). Some of the restaurants manage kiosks and drive-thru inns. Additionally, online platforms may also be considered as distribution grounds for service provision. McDonald’s uses the said these platforms where consumers, at the touch of a button, can place orders for the subsequent acquisition of fast food services. A Website application like the McDonald’s app is an example of an online platform that allows consumers to not only identify the restaurants but also to tap into special online deals that are provided by the company. The place element is essential in the expedition of company growth, by dint of consumer penetration.
Even with the marketing tools that companies embrace, the elements of consumer perception and loyalty cannot go unmentioned. It is apparent that the undertakings of a company, particularly in the service industry, with a bias to the fast food industry, may trigger either positive or negative perceptions to the consumer. The section below will tackle personal reflection from a positive perspective, and the next section will make an address to the reflection on negative perception based on overall experience.
Aspects of the Fast Food Service that have had a Positive Influence on Personal Perceptions on Overall Experience
Consumer perceptions, according to Recklies (1) are very dynamic. I seek to concur with Recklies (1) when he mentions that in the present world, competitive advantage is not only acquired by a company’s quality and price offerings, rather, consumer perception of the overall business experiences have grown to be of tremendous value. The alarming fact is that a single transaction can build or break the perceptions of the relations between the consumer and a company. My interaction with McDonald’s fast food restaurant (Vinita, OK) had encounters which functioned to build my positive perception towards the enterprise. These are as shown below:
Reliability of the Customer Service
Consumers hold service reliability to be of critical importance to them and from my experience, I agree that the virtue is of equal importance in building consumer perception. The four staff members that I interacted with as I waited in the queue were quick to make corrections to hiccups that arose during service. The serving staff seemed to be consistent while offering service in the sense that they treated everyone with equal measure. The staff could also be depended upon to provide assistance with the ordering process and they, therefore, maintained smooth workflow during the service processes. My interaction with the McDonald’s staff, and how they interacted with other consumers as well, made me perceive them as being highly dependable.
Customer Service Assurance
I am of the opinion that offering any form of assurance to customers, results in the development of desirable perceptions. My interaction with the McDonald’s offers confirmation to the aforementioned fact. The moment I walked into the restaurant, one staff was ready to provide assistance with the specials of the day. The interaction made me feel safe and important, and I immediately felt that the day’s service would be exquisite as it always is, for the most part. The staff members who offered assistance to other consumers seemed to be competent and confident in assuming their roles given the way they responded to customer queries and how they attended in haste to the consumer needs.
Staff Empathy and Responsiveness
The final attributes that I drew from the McDonald’s in one of my experience and which further boosted my positive perceptions towards the restaurant was empathy and responsiveness that were depicted by the customer service personnel. The sensitivity that the personnel in the restaurant portray to the consumers is top rated. The service staff members were constantly reassuring the consumers in waiting that service would be offered in no time. The fact that the staff showed an interest in the wellbeing of their customers indicated that they had nothing asides from the best interests at heart, for their clients. The responsiveness of the service staff to queries was desirable which left the consumer feeling valuable. The consistency in the aforementioned experiences, which mainly relied on customer interaction, confirms that the corporate culture of the restaurant is uniquely on a higher level.
Aspects of the Fast Food Service that have had a Negative Influence on Personal Perceptions on Overall Experience
Asides from the positive experiences, there are instances of negative perceptions that emerged from negative perceptions that manifested while seeking for service in a McDonald’s fast food restaurant. The examples are as below:
I am a strong believer that time resource is always of the essence and once wasted, it can never be recovered. With that in mind, when seeking customer service, I expect that the service providers attend to my needs with very minimal waiting time. There are instances, however, when the service provider does not live up to the end of their bargain by ensuring efficiency at all costs. I have had a negative experience of waiting in a long service queue which was not a good show from the McDonald’s take out staff. It is apparent that waiting for lines can be very frustrating and is a form of psychological torture given that a consumer is forced to disregard their productive time to wait in a rather ‘unproductive circumstance.’ It took ages to resolve a technical flaw in the cooking system resulted in the pile up of orders and the quest for backup cooking means seemed to be almost futile. As much as the technical issue was resolved later on and the queue began moving, the damage of waiting had already been ‘done’ which would take a while before becoming ‘undone.’ The perception that was erected in my mind regarding McDonald’s is that the restaurant had characteristics of time wasting and that the restaurant had rather incompetent technical members of staff who did not have the capability to resolve promptly, ‘process technical hiccups.’
Apart from waiting time, I have had a share of experience with the impaired accuracy in one of the serving staff in the restaurant. At the time, I placed an order for a list of things that I required, and part of those was different flavors of the burgers. I had made specific recommendations on the burgers, and I mentioned that I needed three chicken burgers and two beef burgers given that some of the people I was buying for the burgers preferred chicken while others preferred meat. When opening the products after service, I realized that my order was mixed up. The scenario that followed was embarrassing given the portrayal that I was poor at taking orders. It turned out that an error was made when serving my order going by the copy of my receipt. After the instance, I developed the perception that there is some level of incompetency in the McDonald’s serving staff which shows some form of process inaccuracies. Because of the perception, I have learned to countercheck the orders I place to the restaurant, in the bid to prevent embarrassing situations in the future by clearing doubts erected against the food servers.
Food Safety Concerns on Overall Health
The rising cases of televised shows that portray fast foods as being unhealthy have sparked slight negative perceptions from me and towards the McDonald’s, though at slightly lower levels. Given that I only consume fast food products from this brand only and my gaining weight plus the development of chest problems as a result of taking fatty delicacies, has made me question whether the McDonald’s has consumer health and safety interests at heart or not. As much as I still consume the restaurant’s products, though moderately, I still have the perception that makes me marvel at the notion that McDonald’s interests lie in profit maximization while people are slowly dying because of consuming ‘unhealthy foods.’
Aspects of the Physical Evidence were Present in the Purchase of the Service
Physical evidence is an essential component of the broader 7ps. In the reflection, other physical aspects that were notable in the McDonald’s (Vinita, OK) included the servicescape components. Under the servicescape components and on the exterior perspectives, it is imperative to note that features like the parking were notable and it was orderly. The exterior landscape in Vinita and the surrounding environment was breathtaking. On the interior perspectives, the staffs that were involved with food handling service were adorned in clean uniforms, with badges of their name tags. Other staff members who did not handle food were immaculately dressed in their attires.
It is no doubt that visual images have the ability to capture any form of audience. The visual appeal in the McDonald’s augurs well with the consumer. The McDonald’s tantalizes visually with the color appeal which is portrayed uniquely throughout the chain of restaurants. The dominant red and yellow colors that adorn the restaurant ushers the consumer to a rich visual ambiance. The cleanliness of the restaurant, the assured comfort and the arrangement of the restaurant as well as the attractive menus, added to the visual display.
The perception that I drew from the McDonald’s functional aesthetics was that the restaurant managers and staff cared about the overall appeal of their restaurant environment and they wanted the consumers to share into that appealing environment. The physical evidence was critical in heightening the expectation of the restaurant’s service delivery.
Recommendations for the Improvement of the overall Product and Customer Service Experience
It is apparent that customer perceptions can either make or break a company. On that note, positive experiences are critical for building customer loyalty and thus promoting increased sales in the future. With full knowledge of the implications that customer perceptions have, it is imperative to understand that companies ought to measure the magnitude and, as a result, find ways of managing the said perceptions. The following recommendations will provide a framework for companies to map out their tools of measuring the perceptions of their clientele and as a result, provide management solutions that would work for the overall improvement of the customer service experience.
Measurement of Consumer Perception
One way companies can measure consumer perception, in this case, the McDonald’s restaurant is by carrying out market surveys in the bid to identify how consumers perceive their products. The restaurant will, as a result, be in a position to know the preferences of their customers. The restaurant can further map out improvement strategies from the feedback garnered in the market research. Secondly, McDonald’s may seek to identify the variables that influence perception from the standpoint of the consumer. Priorities can thus be set in continuous improvement projects. Thirdly, McDonald’s can look at the market research findings based on segmentation. The reason is that consumers operating under different segmentation forces value certain things which may not be valued in another segment. On that note, market segmentation should be considered in the research activities to ensure that the correct strategies are identified and implemented. Finally, McDonald’s can look into incorporating behavioral factors in the market surveys given that information is drawn from the behavioral perspectives tend to promote high validity and so diagnostic measures that will be arrived at will tend to be of great value (Reglies 1).
Management of Consumer Perception
After the analysis of the data retrieved from market survey then management of the consumer perception can be facilitated. The first step that can be done could facilitate the linkage of service offerings to the predetermined consumer perceptions. Working towards meeting the needs of the consumer is imperative and so when there is a strife towards that, then customer needs will be addressed for the most part. Finally, McDonald’s can look towards communicating to the consumers regarding the possible value that rests in a given service offering and thus indicates the superiority of the service. Consumers will, as a result, gain knowledge on the potential value that they can draw from a service.
With the above findings, it is clear that consumer perception is dynamic in the marketing field and it ought to be taken seriously by service providers. The look at the experiences in a fast food restaurant service, with McDonald’s as the key example, indicates that more has to be done in boosting and rejuvenating positive customer experience. The meaning of this is that service providers, in this case, the McDonald’s has to go back to the drawing board and make changes in their marketing strategies. In such a case the promotion of positive customer perceptions ought to take effect, with a reduction in the negative ones. The outcome would be the development of customer satisfaction and loyalty which would, in turn, foster repeat sales thus lead to overall success.
Membe, Nampungwe Beatrice, and Maria DorizaLoukakou. “Product standardization and adaptation in International Marketing: A case of McDonald’s.” (2012).
Meyer, Pauline. “McDonald’s Marketing Mix (4Ps) Analysis.” Retrieved December 05, 2016, from http://panmore.com/mcdonalds-marketing-mix-4ps-analysis
Razaka, MohdZulkeflee Bin Abd, AzleenBteIliasb, and SitiFaraFadilaBteAbdRazakc. “Experiencing Fast-Food Restaurant Service Quality: An In-Depth Analysis On Customer Reviews.” (2016).
Reglies, Dagmar. “Understanding and Managing Customer Perception.” 2015. Retrieved December 05, 2016, from http://www.themanager.org/2015/01/customer-perception/