Consumer Traits and Behaviors Within McDonald’s
Shelby George, Kirk Kennedy, Kasthuri Naidoo, Donna Schlaht, Va’a Tuilesu
October 14, 2013
Consumer Traits and Behaviors within McDonald’s
In 119 countries around the world a person can see the yellow and red arches, order a meal, and be a McDonald’s customer (McDonald’s, 2013). Even before a person decides to make an order, McDonald’s has communicated through a number of psychological and social mediums tailored to different consumer traits and behaviors. People interpret messages in different ways, so understanding consumer traits and behaviors is key to reaching a large market.
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Beliefs and attitudes can also influence consumer-purchasing behavior. In 2012, celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, publically raised concerns about McDonald’s adding “pink slime” as filler. Pink slime is a created from washing unusable parts of beef in ammonia and water to make it safe for human consumption. Shortly after the issue was made public, McDonald’s announced changes to their beef products, including the exclusion of pink slime from their beef processing. McDonald's has been involved in many initiatives that relate to social responsibility. Initiatives such as Ronald McDonald’s House Charities influence consumer perceptions of the corporation (Dahan & Gittens, 2008).
Consumer Social Processes
Understanding social processes related to consumer purchases provide a direction for the company. Simplifying meals for individual families was a significant burden lifted from the entire family. The ease to feed themselves and their children is a main factor in the success of McDonald’s because both parents had to begin working full time. Starting in the 1960s, many households found it necessary for the second person in a marriage to enter the workforce. The time that was used for cooking meals was spent at the workplace.
Another critical social process of interest to McDonald’s is technology and the role it plays in the consumer-purchasing decisions. Technology, specifically the availability of Wi-Fi in their facilities, demonstrates the goal of implementation of technology in their efforts to establish their traditional dominance in the new technology driven marketplace. “When it comes to business strategies and market approach, companies are switching from being product/profit-oriented towards customer-oriented. All kinds of companies acknowledge that customers are the core of their activity, that customers are the company's most valuable asset” (Talpau & Boscor, 2011, p. 51). Free WiFi allows the customer to multitask at McDonald’s facilities.
Various food options is another way that McDonald’s appeals to consumer social processes. Healthy food options are an example of the large financial incentives available in the marketplace for this segment of the food industry. McDonald’s reported they will “allow customers to get a side salad, fruit or vegetable instead of fries with value meals and promote water, milk and juice as the drinks for Happy Meals on its menus and in ads” (Nichols, 2013, para. 3). According to Robinson, Bloom, and Lurie (2005), a lawsuit was filed, Pelman v. McDonald’s Corp, claiming that fast-food marketers contributed to the obesity rate through misleading nutrition information. Although McDonald’s may not have added healthy food items to its menu because of lawsuits, it could be a potential motivator for McDonald’s to maintain its “hamburger” image, yet offer healthier food options for the healthy conscious culture.
Relationships Between Consumer Traits and Consumer Behavior
In addition to...