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Storyboard | McDonald’s is going gourmet and focusing on ‘happy memories’. Here's why

Arvind R.P., director - marketing and communications, McDonald’s India West and South, on McDonald’s completing 25 years in India and what lies ahead for the fast food giant.

October 27, 2021 / 12:09 PM IST

When the first couple of McDonald’s restaurants opened in Delhi and Mumbai in the late 1990s, the serpentine lines of customers stretched for many blocks. This beacon of American culture and its golden arches had finally arrived in India. But McDonald’s knew that to succeed in the country it would have to Indianise its offerings. So we got the likes of the Maharaja Mac, McAloo Tikki and other spiced up offerings. Now, however, the fast food maker is going gourmet, keeping in mind changing consumer tastes and preferences. McDonald’s 25 years' celebrations in India coinciding with the festive period has turned into an opportunity to launch a range of premium Gourmet Burgers.

Arvind R.P., director - marketing and communications at McDonald’s India, says, “One of the key things that inspired the Gourmet Burger collection was that in the past one and a half year, meal times have become even more important than ever before, which meant... (demand for) more filling offerings from brands like ours.”

McDonald’s also released its new campaign, ‘25 Acts of Happy’ - a series of 25 initiatives and activities which will play out around the year. The first act is ‘Pay with happy memories’, where customers can pay for their meals with their happy memories made at McDonald’s. The memories can be in the form of pictures, videos, and memorabilia.

According to Arvind, “It’s a very important milestone for us where we want to celebrate those memories that consumers have created with us and we intend to bring alive those memories through 25 acts of happiness.”

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He adds that it is important to have an extended year-long celebration, given that consumers are just coming out of lockdowns and two waves of Covid-19 and with this they hope to spread cheer around as the world unlocks.

Speaking about the festive season sentiments, Arvind says, “The buzz is back. Renewed consumer confidence is back, with the increased rate of vaccination and increased mobility in malls and high streets, it’s great news for the market.”

While convenience channels like at-home delivery continue to grow for McDonald’s, and the growth is now higher than pre-pandemic levels, dine-in is recovering on the back of easing of restrictions and the festive season.

Building a case for fast food consumption in times of growing need for a healthy lifestyle is certainly not easy. But Arvind says, “McDonald’s has been on a good food journey for the last three years.”

According to the company, some of the highlights of this journey are reduction of 20% sodium levels across food categories, reduction of fat in mayonnaise, introduction of whole wheat buns and "immunity boosting" beverages.

Besides investing in product offerings, communication and marketing around health and hygiene, McDonald’s will continue to invest in new stores. Arvind says the company will open 25-30 new outlets in 2022, “but our convenience channels like delivery and drive-thru will be more important than ever before”.
Ankita Saxena
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