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Influencing Consumer Behavior: the changing image of ‘fast food’ Report (Assessment)

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Updated: May 21st, 2020


Fast-Food providers are developing new strategies to penetrate more market. Examples of such strategies include change of menu, remodeling and redesigning of premises, just to mention but a few. This work highlights the recent strategies made by Burger King and McDonald Fast, as well as how they manipulate the perception, attitude, motivation, and personality of customers.

Burger King’s Strategy

Knowing the tastes of their customers, restaurants that provide fast foods have devised marketing strategies that will enable them meet the needs of their customers. While other restaurants are leading the supply of meals that cater for health and fitness of their clients, Burger King is initiating a trend that is new.

It is leading in providing its clients with meals whose flavor is comprised of fat and salt. On the other hand, the media and consumer advocacy groups are directing pressure towards McDonald. In response to this criticism, McDonald is providing its clients with health menu offerings that are more healthful.

Further more, those clients who want their waistlines trimmed are having their needs being met by other restaurants that are collaborating with organizations such as weight watchers. However, instead of succumbing to such pressure, Burger Kings has moved ahead to find out the kind of customers who eats from its outlets and their exact needs with an intention of ensuring that they are served appropriately (Kurtz, McKenzie and Snow, 2009, p. 156).

Although a choice of both the place of eating and what some one should eat may not appear to be a big deal, it entails several factors. Some of the factors that consumers may be influenced with include the cost, what their friends and family members say, where the restaurant is located, the duration the meal takes, and by how the consumers perceive the restaurant and its meals.

Burger King had tried to sell low fat menu to its customers on anticipation that it was what they needed. However, the course had to be changed completely.

A survey in marketing revealed that 49% of Burger Kings clients were part of the 18% population who had been identified as regular fast food eaters. According to the company executives, 18 – 34 aged men are great sports fans. They have been named Super Fans. They do not only prefer there meals to come along with sauces and meat, but they also prefer it to be served in large portions.

Therefore, in a bid to tailor-make a product that suits their needs, Burger King has come up with a new sandwich omelet. The new sandwich omelet is suitable for individuals who would prefer to begin their day with a hearty breakfast and has seen an improvement of the company’s breakfast sales by about 20% (Kurtz, McKenzie and Snow, 2009, p. 156).

Powerful Advertising

Besides the new menu items whose target is the Super Fan market, a new promotional strategy has been undertaken by Burger Kings to ensure that its products reach this market. The company had purposed to have a promotional budget that was smaller than that of its rivals. This made it to channel its resources to young men.

What followed was a sequence of promotions that were carried out with an attitude. Two adverts were then carried out which enabled Burger Kings to have an 18% increase in its sales volume in comparison to McDonald that registered an increase 7% lower than that of Burger Kings.

Since the new promotional method was working greatly, Burger Kings proceeded with another series of adverts through the television and the website. In one of the television adverts, a young man was seen jumping up while maintaining that he was a man. He could then proceed to the Burger King and have a fleshy sandwich. While doing this he could assert that he was too angry that he could not settle for food meant for chicks (Kurtz, McKenzie and Snow, 2009, p. 156).

An alternative means that the company has used to penetrate to the market of the Super Fans (young men) has been placing the ads on the mobile websites such as the CBS Sports line where a large number of people who fit the Super Fan profile are reached.

Despite stepped up criticisms from various nutrition-based groups, clients like what Burger Kings serves them. Besides, Burger Kings has been able to single out who its clients are, their preferred meals and how to obtain the information from them (Kurtz, McKenzie and Snow, 2009, p. 156).

Remodel of Restaurants

Burger Kings is the main competitor to McDonald’s (Campbell, 1979, p. 51; Haig, 2006, p. 94). These entail red flame chandeliers that rotate, great television screens and walls of brick. The move was meant to give Burger Kings the feeling of an upscale restaurant. The move was also expected to cost Franchisees who run a greater portion of Burger King’s business.

It may take the company several years for the plan to be adopted in all of its locations. There has been a climb in sales for both the restaurants that have been remodeled and those that were torn and have been completely rebuilt.

However, the latter have registered a greater improvement in sales than the former. The company has plans to make all new restaurants be built based on the plan. Observers have already noted that the new remodel may appeal more to the Burger Kings’ young men who are more loyal to the company.

Although drive through and carry out orders form a greater percentage of the fast – food restaurants’ business, interior remodeling makes them be able to compete with their sit down counterparts who attract more customers as a result of their attractive ambiance and quality meals.

This may also enable Burger Kings be able to outdo its greatest competitor, McDonald and other rivals who have began including burgers in their menu so as to gain a share from the ever growing burger market (Royle, 2000, p. 26).

Although most of these changes are inside the restaurants, Burger Kings has plans to change the exteriors also with both metal canopies and great advertising signs. Moreover, the company is adjusting its menu by adding cheeseburger to its menu in the United States. This is apart from its decisions to introduce energy cutting broiler ovens. More menu items are to be rolled out in future (Heher, 2010).

Burger King’s plan on Beer

The plans by Burger King’s to introduce alcoholic beverages came when there were reports that sales from the restaurant industry had declined. The sale of Burger King’s beer is to be done through whooper bars.

The company’s move to taste the sale of alcoholic beverages is not a new. This is because during the year before, besides selling coffee and tea, Starbucks was inspired to introduce regional beer and wine. On the hand Spain’s Burger King has been selling beer (Harriman, 2007, p. 56).

By launching into the arena of fast-dining dining, Burger King is targeting the population of people aged 30 years and below since, the industry’s growth is mainly dependent on this.

However, critics assert that the move could be tricky since most people understand Burger King to be a Fast-Foods dealer (Horovitz, 2010). However, pro-Burger King’s people say that the move to introduce the beer is timely because given the company’s customer is growing old, Burger King is growing with the customer.

More so, the company’s challenge lies in training new staff to sell alcohol.Already, Germany, Venezuela and Singapore Burger Kings sell beer. There has yet been no reported improvement in sales due to the company’s move. Besides, Burger Kings plans to deliver all its items with an exception of beer (Horovitz, 2010).

Although the introduction of a new product is step in the Category Management Process, its realization is still partial. Most producers still have a focus on introduction of new products and this is likely to go on in future. This is because the customers’ acceptance of the new product determines the success or failure of the product introduced (Kracklauer, Mills and Seifert, 2004, p. 166).

Burger King’s introduction of beer in the United States may be motivated by the fact that since the customers in Singapore, Germany, and Venezuela use it, the customers in the United States will as well accept its introduction. Producers will therefore remain worried of cooperating with retailers on introductions of new product since this could make their rivals aware and hence minimize their competitive advantage.

McDonald’s Strategy

The Manhattan McDonald restaurant has been renovated to take after the form of those in the United Kingdom and France. The restaurant has places where laptops can be positioned and the upholstered vinyl chairs have replaced Fiberglass seats that used to be fixed to the floor. Additionally, the lighting is subdued and all employees seem to suggest a hip boutique from their black uniforms (The Associated Press, 2009).

What makes the restaurant look unique from all others McDonald’s is its beautiful and lounge-like appearance. The new look of the restaurant targets the young people and is meant to make them get relaxed over a newspaper and not feel rushed when in. McDonald’s spokesperson asserted that although most of the company’s 14,000 restaurants had been updated, although in the United States, the Chelsea location was the first to be accorded the urban design.

The new look has enabled customers to be able to multitask while in the restaurant. For instance, while eating, one can log his laptop on and do some other tasks. The growth of McDonald’s in Europe can be attributed to not only the redesigning of the restaurants but also to its menu items. The strategy has enabled McDonald’s to record an increase in sales even during the recession (The Associated Press, 2009).

There is no difference in menu at Chelsea McDonald’s and that from other locations. Differences are in the way the restaurant has been internally designed and decorated. The restaurant has tables of small size made for small groups of clients who may want to hold informal meetings.

One of the McDonald’s New York restaurants has a grand piano displayed to the public. McDonald’s redesigning is not in reaction to any other brand. It is McDonald’s initiative (The Associated Press, 2009).

The redesigning concept that McDonald’s has undergone is about the community center phenomenon that is making the McDonald a place where young people can hang out. McDonald’s had to start focusing more on show casing and the eating experience as a way of it coping with the trend of slow – food.

Since France took the lead in the redesigning of McDonald, attempts have been made to ensure that its core customers comprises of not only young adults but also young professionals. Olive and sage green are also to replace the company’s emblematic red and yellow colors (Design Woo, 2010).

. The redesigning of McDonald’s enabled the company to introduce three main areas that would enable customers to have more choices. The three areas comprised of comfortable armchairs and sofa sets found in the “linger area,” the bar-like-zone for customers who prefer to eat alone and the family region that comprises of a colorful and flexible ambience where families can sit and enjoy meals.

About seven thousand restaurants in the United States are to undergo rebuilding or modernizing. The company’s approach has been given a three dimensional expansion approach. These include changes in menu, renovation of the stores and a different ordering experience (Design Woo, 2010).

Understanding Consumer’s Behavior and Personality

Personality is the inner attribute that show how someone responds to his/her surrounding (Reynolds and Kamphaus, 2003, p. 53; Lauwers and Swisher, 2010). Particular characteristics, traits and mannerisms constitute inner attributes. Although people may possess similar traits, they cannot have all identical aspects.

Since the environmental, circumstantial, socio-cultural, and psychological factors that influence behavior vary, the consumption behavior of customers often varies. Individuals interact with different circumstances and this makes them to manifest different patterns of behavior. There are two main implications for personality aspects in marketing.

First, specific behaviors of customers such as the kind of brand that they will buy cannot be anticipated by single measures of their personality traits. Secondly, a different behavior is exhibited by consumers when either their purchase is being observed by other people or when they are making purchases in the company of their friends or relatives (Majumdar, 2010, p. 106).

Put in a different way, both situational variables and presence of other people bring about social pressure on the decisions revolving about making product choices. This is due to the interaction between the presence of others and situational variables with the consumer’s personality.

Although personality is generally consistent and may depict the uniqueness of an individual, however some major events in life may cause it to change over time. There are two implications for personality on marketing.

First, it influences how people may consume a given product or service. This includes its influence on consumers’ brand choices and the response of a consumer to marketing and advertising attempts by the marketer. Secondly, it gives marketers guidelines on hoe they should categorize consumers based on their traits.

How McDonald’s strategies match consumer behavior and personality

Therefore, cognizance of the trends in consumer behavior and personality patterns, both McDonalds and Burger King’s has devised marketing strategies that fit them. On one hand, McDonald’s has partitioned its new redesigned restaurants into three parts.

The comfortable place with sofa sets and armchairs are designed for those clients who may not be in a hurry and prefer eating from comfortable sitting positions. These are consumers with a high need for cognition. This will therefore make them order meals that will enable them linger in this area for a long time.

Those customers who prefer eating alone have their own area catered for them. Individuals who prefer eating in the presence of their fellow family members have their family region tailor made for them. There are cases at McDonald’s restaurant in Beijing of young couples or teenagers lingering in the restaurant.

This is because they consider the surrounding to romantic for them. Women also tend to stay there for long whether they are alone or in company. Lonely men tend to eat hurriedly and leave. Differences in this behavior across gender is said to be due to the absence of alcohol (Counihan, 2008, p. 513).

Those clients who would prefer to eat while doing some other task like reading a newspaper or working with their laptops have outfits on eateries where they can do all these tasks from. Customers who prefer music as their hobby have their needs catered for due to the presence of a grand piano that is displayed to people outside through one of the McDonald restaurant’s windows. Use of music has the ability to attract clients with similar traits (Madura, 2006, p. 531).

Music has different impacts on the customer. For example, country, western and Classical music can help to enhance ambiance. Slow music can entice clients to linger in the restaurant and eat more for while fast music will enable them eat quickly and leave the store for others (Lamb, Hair and McDaniel, 2007, p. 426).

McDonald’ move to introduce a playing ground for children and new items on its menu is a strategy to attract more customers (Bloomberg, 2006; Solomon, 2005, p. 206; Nelson, 2009, p. 96). The move is likely to make more clients come in as families due to presence of places where children can play and then eat.

The new menu is meant to reach out to those customers who have different tastes or like making more choices. The use of red and yellow colors serves as a tool of attracting the attention of customers and pulling them to the excitement of its surrounding. The restaurant has also introduced a unique lighting system. Although this can also affect consumer choice behavior, more research is yet to be done to ascertain how this actually takes place (Marshall, 1995, p. 304).

How Burger King’s strategies match consumer behavior and personality

Burger King’s CEO is known for devising marketing strategies that increase the company’s sales (Pride and Ferrell, 2008, p. 57). Its aggressive advertising through the commercials on television targeting the Super Fans saw the company record high sales.

The same was also observed through its promotions on websites on mobiles phones. Besides, its recent internal remodeling of its restaurants in most of its locations has also led to an increase in sales. The remodeled image of the internal environment changes the perception of consumers in several ways.

First, the appearance is attractive and it has cost Burger King a lot of money. This has given it an executive look that is mainly attractive to the upper class customers who are quick to identify with such a restaurant that matches their economic status for instance the Thailand restaurant (Spooner, Borrowman and Baldwin, 2007).

Secondly, the remodeling has given the restaurant a friendly internal ambiance that makes the customers present to linger in for more time. As this happens, they continue to buy more meals from the menu and in the long run increase its sales.

Thirdly, the commercials directed to the young men make them feel superior and change their attitude towards the meals offered by the Burger Kings restaurant where they flood to continue buying more. Advertising through the mobile phone websites is also another way of targeting the youth since most of them can access mobile phones. This is also a relevant media of advertising to them (Donovan and Henley, 2010, p. 355; Koplan, 2010, p. 215).

This is strategic because it targets the youth who are likely to use the company’s product. The internet is a non-personal form of advertisement that cannot only increase the awareness of clients, but can also persuade them (Madura, 2006, p. 531).

Burger King’s promotional efforts have targeted different forms of personalities. Such a category of personalities is the dogmatic personality. This personality is for people who are rigid and do not show a tendency of accepting the choices made or suggested by others (Sahaf, 2008, p. 113).

Messages that these consumers are receptive to are those that focus on aspects like factual differences and possible benefits of the products. Therefore, to influence their choices, celebrity endorsements are often used. In ensuring that its promotional message gets to this category of clients, Burger King’s advertising features a young man who asserts to be a man and then goes for the company’s sandwich cheese instead of any other food.

Comparisons with other fast-food competitors in influencing consumer behavior

In, the above-described firms are among the key multinational-based companies in the fast-food market. Various emerging market companies within the same market provide similar services. Being local does not only mean having a presence that is locally established, but also having a local knowledge that is superior with regard to tastes and differences of consumers within a given region.

Survival of local brands is therefore dependent on leveraging of this superiority. By being local, some of the strengths available are reduced production costs, being able to make quick decisions and moves that are pre-emptive, possibility of collaborating with international competitors and that of counterattacking (Batra, 1999, p. 226-227).

An example of such a home based fast-food provider in Philippines is Jollibee. It has given McDonald (a global competitor) a great challenge in the home (Philippine) market. 75% of the burger market and 56% of fast food business is owned by Jollibee in its home market where McDonald operates as well. This has been achieved mainly customizing and tailor making its services, delivery standards, and menu to suit the needs of its local customers.

This has really attracted many consumers to the firm. It has made it to maintain its market share against McDonald, which has only 19% of the same market (Batra, 1999, p. 227). Additionally, McDonald’s and other competitors, in a bid to increase profits through influencing consumer behavior is their introduction of new menu products which have often led to sales increase (Ferrante, 2008, p. 150).

Relationship with theories of Consumer behavior

Burger King was following Pavlov’s theory on Classical conditioning, which states that presenting the same stimuli to an organism continuously produces similar repeated response from it (Raji, 2007, p. 33). Therefore, in this case, two kinds of promotions were used as marketing stimuli and after they had led to increased sales, the company decided to use advertising as another marketing stimulus again.

On the other hand, B.F. Skinner’s instrumental learning was carried out by placing a cat in closed box. In its attempt to get out of the box, the cat had to press a spring that either released food or let it to move out. By doing this repeatedly, the cat made a distinction between the spring and other levers, making it to keep on pressing it.

Slow learning resulted from the reinforcement (Raji, 2007, p. 33). In the same way, the intense advertising done by Barger Kings to reach out to the young men (Super fans) was done repeatedly in manner that made them make a strong association between the new omelet sandwich and its nutritional significance to those who used it.

In addition, the cognitive learning theory states that learning is enhanced when a person’s cognition is restructured according to the problem. The person solves a problem using systematic reasoning and mental activity.

When a person encounters a problem, he gathers information that can be used in the formation of both attitude and experience towards the object. For example, using intelligence and problem-solving skills, a consumer can end up buying a product that they have never bought before.

Thus, before making a purchasing decision, they will make an evaluation of the psychological, economic, and sociological factors (Raji, 2007, p. 36-37).

For example, the remodeling of the McDonald’s restaurants creates a serene and romantic environment to the young people who see it as a facility to address their social needs. In addition, customers purchase newly introduced meals from these fast-food providers since they can attribute the goodness and quality of the previous products to the new ones.

Moreover, observational is learning by imitation. It explains how consumers acquire new behavioral patterns by watching what other do and then using it in their own situations (Nelissen, 2002, p. 311). For example, McDonald’s redesigning of the restaurant into an area that is for customers who prefer dining in the presence of others may result observational learning.

Some customers may decide on what to eat based on what other customers in the same place are having. In addition, the increase in Burger King’s sales was as a result of young men imitating what they saw from the series of television adverts on its new product – omelet sandwich.


Most fast-food companies have devised strategies that tend to influence and motivate the choices, behavior, and personalities of customers. Burger King has remodeled its restaurant and has introduced some changes on the menu. The company has used television and internet advertising to get its message to the target audience.

On the other hand, McDonald’s has rebuilt some of its restaurants with outfits that attract more clients. These include change of color, furnish, menu and introduction of both music and children’s playing ground. All these strategies have led to increase in sales volume for the two companies. This is because they have the ability to manipulate the perceptions, learning, attitude formation, and purchasing behavior of consumers.

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