Chasing the Customer … They Change! What to do?

mcDonalds fries

 McDonald’s Dilemma

 Customers are Changing

Faster Than Marketers

Check the financial statements!

Potatoes are not the only thing being ‘fried’ at McDonald’s these days.

Those of you who have been following the series know that I have been talking not about business strategy or marketing strategy, but Market Strategy. What’s Market Strategy? Read on!

Every C-suite today, no matter what the vertical, has to confront a fundamental dilemma in today’s market — the fact that the customers are changing faster than marketers. Case in point, McDonald’s:


Millennials and their younger siblings in Generation Z just don’t want to eat at McDonald’s.

“But the really scary thing for the chain is generational. Millennials and their younger sisters and brothers in Generation Z don’t want to eat at McDonald’s, as Crain’s contributor Lisa Bertagnoli wrote recently. Unlike baby boomers, for whom a McDonald’s hamburger and fries remain a fond childhood memory, today’s kids are growing up in an America with lots more lunch and dinner choices beyond meat and potatoes. A Quarter Pounder, for more and more of the under-30 set, is boring when they could have a custom-made burrito at Chipotle Mexican Grill or falafel at Naf Naf Grill.

The mass market that McDonald’s catered to and prospered from, in short, has atomized. Unless CEO Don Thompson and his team can connect with younger Americans, McDonald’s risks becoming another relic from an era when uniformity was valued above customization.”


Crain’s Chicago Business wrote a very and interesting article on McDonald’s current downturn. It is a worth a read:



Market Strategy

Is the customer ‘shapeshifting’?

Crain’s raises a great question in their article … can Mcdonald’s shift its menu and customer experience to meet the changing generational preferences of its current and future customer base?

Those of you who have been following the series know that I have been talking not about business strategy or marketing strategy, but Market Strategy. Business and marketing strategy are absolutely critical to any ongoing business.  Not as widely used, but in my opinion, extraordinarily important in today’s customer experience and mass customization culture is Market Strategy.

Understanding Market Strategy might help McDonald’s . Here’s How:

Market Strategy may be defined as … how product behavior, customer characteristics, pricing techniques, and market information ( customer communication) can be melded and used to strategic advantage.

Time for the C-Suite to begin to understand and incorporate Market Strategy within the corporate skill set.

Rick Fizdale, former head of Leo Burnett, made two important and relevant points in his Preface for  Stanley Tannenbaum, Robert Lauterborn and Don Schultz’s critically important book, Integrated Marketing Communications Putting It together and Making It Work. 

Rick, more presciently than his industry peers, in 1993 wrote:

  1. “In the United States, with its remarkably diverse population and clearly defined regions, aggregating consumers by gross demographics (as well as the very idea of mass) was always an illusion.”
  2. “The database will prove to be a more powerful marketing tool than television ever was.”

Today, the almost universal penetration of the Internet is rapidly shifting complete brand power to the consumer. Simply put, you can no longer sell what you make … you must make what you can sell. A good Market Strategy, rigorously applied,  helps a business understand its customers better than anyone else. Kroger, Home Depot, Macy’s, and Nordstrom are examples of C-suites who have grasped the issue and provided business plans and marketing strategies to adopt and adapt. Proof? Check out the financial statements.


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