By Darlene Abubakar, Amtrak
It’s tough to grow a brand during a major recession, but McDonald’s is thriving during these tough times. How are they doing it? This was Neil Golden’s topic of discussion at the ANA annual conference general session this morning. He is Chief marketing office at McDonald’s and his presentation focused on how leading their marketing efforts with ethnic insights is having a major impact on their growth.
It’s easy to imagine that McDonald’s was always the leading fast serve restaurant; nationally and even globally, but according to Mr. Golden, in 2002 sales were down and their marketing campaigns were primarily short term – disconnected incentive based promotions. The problem - the company was focused on themselves rather than the consumer.
Then in 2003, they launched their “I’m Loving it Campaign” globally and began the process of reinvigorating and modernizing the brand. He indicated that this is their longest running campaign and today it enjoys 100% brand recognition and association. They now focus their efforts on the consumer, with particular emphasis on the ethnic consumer. Mr. Golden reminded us that 30% of the population is Hispanic, African American and Asian and these are the fastest growing segments of the populations. He added that they apply ethnic insights thought all points of the marketing process and understanding and listening to multicultural audiences has given McDonald’s a huge competitive advantage.
Beginning with focus groups, separate testing is conducted with Hispanic, Asian, African American and General markets consumers, multiple targeted agencies develop two year marketing plans for each segment, culturally relevant insights are incorporated into creative and media and event sponsorships are targeted with multicultural consumers in mind. Mr. Golden stressed the need to develop compelling, ethnic inspired messaging that generates an emotional connection with multicultural audiences. He also reminded the audience that ethnic consumer segments are leading lifestyle trends.
When asked the question, “how do you get your company to focus on multicultural segments when budgets are tight?”, Mr. Golden replied, “you will notice that the only color that I did not talk about was green.” He added that with Hispanics, African Americans and Asians being the fastest growing segments of the population, focusing on these consumers will translate to “GREEN” i.e. the money. Now isn’t that ultimately our goal?