McDonald's takes localised approach in India

12 May 2010

NEW DELHI: McDonald's, the fast food chain, is tapping in to family values and emphasising its price competitiveness as it seeks to connect with consumers in India.

The quick service specialist currently operates around 180 restaurants in the Asian nation, having first established a presence in the country in 1996.

While the company has aimed to retain some of its global characteristics, it has also launched a range of products to suit Indian tastes and budgets.

"The starting point for McDonald's India was to position itself as Indian, represent family values and culture and at the same time be comfortable and easy," said Arvind Singhal, director, marketing of McDonald's India West & South.

Having run its first ad campaign based on these themes in 2000, McDonald's has since attempted to develop these ideas while simultaneously showing it is an affordable option for consumers.

Its recent efforts in this area have included making the low-cost Happy Price Menu and Extra Value Menu the centrepieces of its marketing.

"Once we had established the brand, we moved on to the next phase of establishing the products and services through advertising," said Singhal.

"This positioning has been further strengthened by advertising campaigns ably supported by promotional activities."

Leo Burnett, McDonald's lead agency in India, has deliberately avoided hiring celebrity spokespeople even though this is one of the most widely-used tools in the rapidly-growing economy.

"We have not used any brand ambassadors for McDonald's," said Samarjit Choudhry, vice president of Leo Burnett India.

"The brand belongs to the consumers and whatever works best for the consumer is what is done. Our guests are our biggest advocates and ambassadors."

Choudhry further suggested that McDonald's has adopted a highly flexible approach to its advertising, in keeping with the broader shifts observable across India as a whole.

"McDonald's advertising has undergone changes as the need of the market has changed," he said.

"Initially, the attempt was to make the brand endearing ... Post that, the focus was to communicate that it is an inexpensive place and that everyone can truly afford to come to McDonald's."

The maker of the Big Mac has proved highly successful in achieving this objective, as can be demonstrated by its appeal to a variety of demographics, according to Sangeetha N, of RK Swamy BBDO, the ad agency.

"McDonald's has quietly made inroads into the homes of the middle and upper middle class Indians, such that the younger generation sees it as an essential part of their social identity," she said.

"This has been cleverly achieved through innovative Indian menus, pricing, innovative promos and communication that portrays the new middle class Indian family."

Data sourced from Exchange4Media; additional content by Warc staff