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How McDonalds adapts menus for franchise locations

Writing for an international audience, I’m never sure if I should call them fries or chips? And what about biscuits? That word means two different things to two different groups of people.

That might sound silly, but location impacts consumer preferences. It’s crucial that brands adapt their offerings and marketing efforts to the opinions of surrounding audiences – something McDonald’s has mastered. Although the fast food giant keeps core menu items consistent (the iconic burger and fries) McDonald’s menus differ slightly by country to reflect cultural and culinary differences. 

For example, poutine is exclusive to Canadian McDonald’s, Italy serves authentic Parmiggiano Reggiano, and only Dutch customers can enjoy the McKroket – a fried ragout patty with mustard on a bun.

Differences are key in understanding audiences. Relative Insight compares two sets of words to discover the differences in the topics, words, phrases, grammar and emotion. This comparative approach adds a layer of context to the analysis process.

We used a social listening platform to pull tweets discussing McDonald’s from four different countries – the US, UK, France and Japan. By comparing consumer conversations from each geographic market, we can understand the differences in how they speak. This social media analysis provides us with the insight to offer products and communications that resonate with target markets.

US

Although burgers and fries are classic American cuisine, US customers spoke highly of some newer menu items. They begged McDonald’s to bring back the snack wrap and steak and egg breakfast bagel, which were taken off the menu. US customers also mentioned the McDouble, McChicken, fries, and biscuit sandwiches.

Image: US McDonalds

American customers were the only group to speak about beverages equally as much as food. They claimed that sodas, specifically Sprite and Coke, from McDonald’s are somehow more refreshing than from anywhere else. 

Image: US McDonald's soda

UK

The UK has similar menu items to the US, but customers use different words to describe them. McDonald’s was called Maccies, and fries called chips. UK customers liked newer menu items, specifically the cheese melt dippers and nacho cheese bites. The English McDonald’s menu also boasted McFlurry flavors that made Americans envious. 

Image: UK McDonald's

France

McDonalds menus in France stood out when it came to their bakery selection. Customers mentioned croissants and macarons, which are only available at French locations. They also favored the diverse sauce options, including aigre-douce, cocktail, curry and potato. 

Image: French McDonald's

Japan

In Japan, we saw references to classic Japanese ingredients like soy, teriyaki and rice. Customers used the word yummy to describe menu items like roasted soy sauce tomato bacon thick beef burger and the spicy chicken mcnuggets with garlic pepper.

Image: Japan McDonald's

McDonald’s succeeds as an international brand by understanding the culinary history and cultures of key geographic markets. By analyzing the opinions of location-based audiences, brands can understand their unique preferences and gain the insight to succeed internationally. 

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