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McDonald's keeps 'half a step ahead'

News, 19 September 2016
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LONDON: McDonald's, the quick service restaurant chain, has developed a strategy whereby it is ready to act when consumer trends reach a tipping point, the company's UK head of marketing has said.

Speaking to Campaign, Alistair Macrow discussed how McDonald's turned around its reputation in recent years by improving the quality of its food, the décor of its outlets, and ensuring that it is positioned "to be where people are just about to go".

In a wide-ranging interview, Macrow, who was named the Marketing Society's UK Marketing Leader of the Year 2016, pointed to the company's Signature Collection as an example of how it is keeping up with changes in consumer preferences.

With the UK witnessing a trend for high quality burgers, McDonald's has responded by offering freshly prepared gourmet burgers that give it the flexibility to personalise.

Although the Signature Collection is currently available in only 69 out of its 1,250 UK restaurants, Macrow suggested it showed how McDonald's was ahead of the curve.

"Being the scale of brand that we are, we should always be about half a step ahead of our customers," he said. "If we get a full step ahead of them, it's probably too far; if we're a step behind, we're going to miss out."

Macrow joined the company in 2007 at a time when it was battling with reputational issues about its health credentials, especially following the fallout from Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me" documentary of 2004.

But after overhauling and rebranding much of its UK estate, including the installation of self-order touchscreens in 500 of its restaurants, Macrow claimed that McDonald's is now trusted by twice as many people as before.

"Those sort of movements have really made the brand stick out. At the heart, our aspiration is to be the UK's best-loved restaurant company," he said.

"Our journey has been about giving people more reasons to love us and trust us, but also removing some of those barriers to loving us."

Data sourced from Campaign; additional content by Warc staff

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