My name is Giada Chessa and I am the manager of a company founded in 1940 in San Bernardino, California. The company in question is “McDonald’s”. Originally, a simple American restaurant, it is now the world’s largest fast food restaurant chain by revenue. Nowadays, it serves about 70 million consumers daily in more than 37 thousand restaurants operating in 119 states around the world.
The company’s success can be attributed to Glocalization. This term, coined by Japanese economists in 1980, derives from the union of two words, Globalization and Localization, and indicates the global expansion of a company combined with the standardization of the product offered, which is shaped according to the needs of local consumers.
McDonald’s had to face lots of challenges for prospering in different regions; the biggest challenge for a multinational company is to be able to fit into the contexts of the different lands in which it intends to operate.
As a manager of the Indian branch of business, I am particularly confronted with a cultural problem. The cultural environment is one of the most difficult to deal with, as the habits and tastes of consumers depend on it.
The cultural environment challenge is to adopt a strategy that allows the company to maintain its own identity by adapting traditional products to the preferences of local consumers.
In India, the preferences of the population are conditioned by religion. The majority of the population is Hindu and cows are considered sacred so beef is prohibited. The second largest population is of Muslims for whom pork is a taboo and they only prefer to eat halal meat.
The strategy to penetrate such a particular market is to modify the so-called “American menu” by eliminating some products and adding others more suited to Indian tastes.
The best business model to achieve this goal is the “franchising”, which allows most of the menu to be developed locally guaranteeing the separation between vegetarian and non-vegetarian products starting from the food preparation phase to the customer service.
In order to outperform the competition, it is advisable for the company to gain customer loyalty. This is possible through a careful selection of the product, which must be flexible to the culture, tastes and preferences of the market. From this point of view, McDonald’s can show great interest in the local customer through, for example, the replacement of beef burgers with chicken burgers, or the production of burgers made up of peas, potatoes, carrots, rice, beans and the use of local spices and chilies. Another way of attracting customers can be to make a “McDonald’s” product based on a traditional Indian meal; for example, you can put Aloo Tikki inside a sandwich, thus making a product that can be sold not only in India but also across the border.
Another problem is the public image, because McDonald’s remains an international restaurant chain and does not always follow the standards of the states in which it wants to operate, as in this case in India.
Because of the cultural factor, particularly religious one, McDonald’s meets with strong opposition from members of Hindu organizations and the military arm of one of the dominant fundamentalist political parties in India. For this reason, it is important that the company makes clear to the authorities that its products in India do not contain beef or pork.
Moreover, in recent years, the fast food chain in question has been receiving protests about its unhealthy menu, which has led to obesity and many other health problems. In this sense, McDonald’s has enriched its menu with nutritional meals such as salads.
Being part of a new cultural context is a difficult task but I have shown that through research and analysis of customers and their habits it is possible to develop strategies to be successful.