Fast food might be critiqued heavily for the effects that it produces on health, as well as the unappetizing details of how it is produced, yet it is undeniable that the fast food industry has been one of the most lucrative business areas for quite a while (Inoue et al., 2017, p. 48). At the top of this industry, McDonald’s shapes customers’ perception of food and nutrition, thus altering people’s eating habits to a large extent (Raduzzi & Massey, 2019, p. 26). Although McDonald’s food is known as not exactly the healthiest meal option, the number of its customers seems to have been growing (Dohmen & Raman, 2018, p. 109). However, unlike buyers at other food chains, McDonald’s consumers cannot be represented as people with uncontrollable appetite for junk food. Instead, people choosing McDonald’s as their primary choice of a restaurant appear to have developed an idea of McDonald’s food actually being healthy (Dohmen & Raman, 2018, p. 109).This paper’s objective is to study the patterns of consumption frequency in McDonald’s customers based on their perceived nutrition.
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Over the course of its existence, McDonald’s reached the point of its progress at which it does not need much introduction. Representing the fast food industry on a global level and having become a household name for it in a variety of countries, McDonald’s has affected how people view food and the process of its consumption (Priyono, 2017, p. 2).
McDonald’s is typically regarded as the pioneer in the fast-food industry for a good reason since the organization has become a global brand and a doubtless leader in the fast food market over the decades of its existence. Founded in 1940 in San Bernardo, CA by Richard and Maurice McDonald, the organization has been thriving since its conception. Despite the fact that the company is no longer represented by any of the McDonald’s family members and is owned by Chris Kempczinski (“Company analysis: McDonalds (NYSE: MCD),” 2020). Although the quality of McDonald’s food has been deemed as questionable, the organization has managed to establish a worldwide presence, appealing successfully to audiences of all cultural backgrounds (Kraak et al., 2017, p. 854). Throughout its existence, McDonald’s has expanded to 120 countries and built 37,855 outlets (“Company analysis: McDonalds (NYSE: MCD),” 2020). Up until recently, when rigid guidelines were imposed on companies due to quarantine, McDonalds’ has been serving to around 68,000 visitors per day (“Company analysis: McDonalds (NYSE: MCD),” 2020). The organization serves primarily fast food to its customers, which includes its trademark products such as Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets, and Small World Famous Fries, to name a few (“Company analysis: McDonalds (NYSE: MCD),” 2020). McDonald’s owes the influence that the company presently possesses in equal parts to its marketing and the universally appealing taste of its food.
Despite McDonald’s having been exposed several times for serving unhealthy food with large amounts of saturated fat and other harmful ingredients to its target audience, McDonald’s has seen a significant increase in the number of customers. However, the nature of the observed change is yet to be researched and identified Although the presence of stereotypes about its products still places the company under a significant degree of suspicion from its target audience, McDonald’s has been enjoying a rather rapid rise in positive attitudes toward its products (Raduzzi & Massey, 2019, p. 31). Specifically, McDonald’s has become a common place to visit for families with children, particularly, in the countries where McDonald’s is a common fast food alternative (Priyono, 2017, p. 3). Remarkably, studies show that the attitude toward McDonald’s food has changed drastically in the specified population since they no longer perceive McDonald’s products as junk food (Colicev et al., 2018, p. 55). Instead, they tend to view the specified meals as nutritious, considering them a legitimate option for their meals (Fakih et al., 2016, p. 80). Ostensibly, the observed change could be correlated with the increase in the frequency of customers’ visits to the restaurant. This paper seeks to examine the phenomenon in which customers returning to McDonald’s and consuming its food repeatedly tend to change their perception of its products and view it as tasty and nutritious by examining McDonald’s approach to marketing, branding, and promotion.
Preliminary Literature Review
The frame of reference that will be applied to this paper is rooted in the marketing perspective and the exploration of how customers’ attitudes and buyer behaviors can be altered despite the presence of information pointing to the undesirability of the product. Namely, the issue of brand image development and the importance of increasing frequency of purchases will be used as the lens through which the issue will be examined.
Over the past few decades, the visiting frequency among its customers appears to be quite steady, if not increasing. While the quarantine measures applied to address the issue of the coronavirus have affected the frequency of visits to McDonald’s, the general trends appear to have stayed intact, with most people previously using McDonald’s still being loyal to the company (Gheribi, 2017, p. 68). Moreover, the propensity toward more frequent consumption of McDonald’s products may have been spotted, according to the research by Besson et al. (2020, p. 4) and Anaf et al. (2017, p. 7). Specifically, an increase toward more eager consumption of McDonald’s food has been noticed among families with children (Anaf et al., 2017, p. 7). Some research connects the described alterations to the shift in customers’ perception of the food’s nutritional value (Fakih et al., 2016, p. 79). Overall, the visiting frequency seems to be moving upwards for McDonald’s. From the marketing frame of reference, the described trend indicates that McDonald’s attempts at keeping customers’ loyalty have been working quite well.
Consumer Perception of Nutrition
Another factor that must be incorporated into the analysis, consumer frequency has also been increasing up until the restrictions defined by the quarantine. The propensity toward a gradual increase in the amount of food consumed at McDonald’s and the frequency of consumption can also be spotted when analyzing the recent trends in buyers’ behavior at McDonald’s. Namely, the research by Dundon (2016, p. 17) mentions that McDonald’s customers tend to frequent the place more often as they become more familiar with the menu options and the products that they consume.
Overall, with the increase in visits, customers’ perception of McDonald’s food appears to become more appreciative. Among the key positive changes, greater attention to the ingredients of the products and the understanding of their positive nutritional value by McDonald’s customers appears to have become a common occurrence (Fakih et al., 2016, p. 82; Zsóka & Vajkai, 2018, p. 23). Supposedly, the specified change in perception may occur in a greater range of people after continuous exposure to McDonald’s products (Veselinova & Samonikov, 2020, p. 14; Hollebeek & Macky, 2019, p. 35). Thus, studies indicate that the longer exposure to McDonald’s products affects the levels of frequency in visiting the food chain in question and consuming its products (Yang et al., 2017, p. 460; Colicev et al., 2018, p. 55). Applying the suggested frame of reference, one will realize that customers have been willfully dismissive of the potential negative effects of McDonald’s food despite the existing proof. Thus, the marketing strategy deployed by McDonald’s has been affecting customers’ willingness to visit the restaurant. In turn, a drop in concern for the drastically low nutritional value of the products has been obvious in McDonald’s customers as well.
While a notable change in customers’ perception of McDonald’s food has been noted and correlated positively with the increase in the frequency of their visits, the marketing framework that McDonald’s has been using to achieve the described effect needs to be studied in greater depth. By examining the marketing framework that McDonald’s has been using to boost the rates of customer return with a change in their perception of food, other organizations will be able to gain additional advantage in the market (Brentari t al., 2016, p. 1959). Thus, the frame of insight for this paper is rooted in the marketing aspect of the organization’s performance. In other words, the research will be based on the data concerning customers’ preferences and their change over time due to increased exposure to the company’s food and its marketing framework. Thus, the articles such as the papers by Anaf et al. (2017, p. 7), Colicev et al. (2018, p. 55), and Yang et al. (2017, p. 461) will provide the foundation for the analysis.
This paper will strive to prove that the customers’ positive perception of McDonald’s food increases exponentially as they are exposed to it and the copious amounts of information about its nutritional value provided at McDonald’s, which is driven by the company’s innovative marketing approach.
“How do McDonald’s customers’ perceptions vary by consumption frequency of purchasing food based on their perceived nutrition, and how has McDonald’s achieved the specified correlation?”
Objective/Aims of Research
- Determining consumption frequency in McDonald’s customers;
Argument: locating consumption frequency allows establishing a pattern of customers’ behaviors.
- Identifying customers’ perceptions of McDonald’s food;
Argument: understanding of current perceptions sets the premise for further observations.
- Documenting changes in customers’ perception of McDonald’s food over time with increased consumption frequency;
Argument: detailed recordings of customers’ behaviors will provide crucial data for further analysis.
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- Locating key trends in the observed perception changes;
Argument: analysis of key trends in customers’ perceptions will help to answer the research question.
- Speculating possible factors behind the specified changes.
Argument: analysis of key factors will lead to developing viable solutions.
Significance and Benefits of Research
McDonald’s has been making a continuous and conscious effort to change its food manufacturing patterns and implement a healthier and more sustainable approach so that its food would not affect people’s well-being an health status negatively. To the company’s credit, multiple efforts have been made, leading to impressive positive outcomes (Yang et al., 2017, p. 466). However, despite the described changes, the organization is still perceived by many as the source of harmful products, and the nutritional value of its food is deemed as very low. Therefore, by examining the effects that the levels of exposure toward McDonald’s products have on the changes in their perceived value, one will be able to develop the strategy for addressing cases of bad publicity and demonstrating the positive change that a company has made. Overall, the significance of research is moderate since its results are expected to prove the correlation and causation between the frequency of visits and the chance to recognize the improved nutritional value of McDonald’s food.
Deliveries: An Outline of Planned Arguments/Evidence
- Due to the elaborate use of a well-developed marketing strategy, McDonald’s has been managing to change customers’ perception of the nutritional value of its food by encouraging them to use the company’s services more frequently.
- The increase in the visiting patterns coincides with the rise in the levels of product consumption due to the acceptance of the idea that the nutritional value of the product is higher than stated.
- Moreover, the described correlation also aligns with the increasing appreciation for the nutritional value of the product.
- Studying McDonald’s approach for improving customers’ perception of its products’ nutritional value through more frequent exposure, one will be able to build a strategy for encouraging change in the perceived value of a product.
In order to approach the issue of change in customers’ perception of nutrition at McDonald’s, the qualitative research method will be required. Since the outcomes do not need to be quantified, and the nature of the research question is primarily focused on the transformation of the individual understanding of nutrition, the qualitative framework appears to be the most rational way of approaching the issue. However, since the systematic investigation of the subject matter is needed to track down the transformation of customers’ views on the subject matter, a case study approach will have to be applied.
For this research, a group of participants will be selected so that change in their perception of McDonald’s food could be observed. To ensure that the information obtained from the target audience contains enough variation, a total of 25 participants will be recruited for the case study. Therefore, the sample will consist of 25 people, with the nonprobability sampling being used as the main strategy for picking the participants. As for the secondary method used for this study, the overview of the existing literature on the problem of the company’s marketing and the changes in its nutritional value will be undertaken.
Structure/Outline of Research Project
To study the key trends in the change of nutrition perception among people frequenting McDonald’s, one will need to carry out a meticulous preliminary research and a profound analysis based on the data collected from observations in the case study. Specifically, the study will follow the outline provided below:
- Company Background and Key Facts
- Problem Statement
- Research Question
- Key Research Goals
- Expected Outcomes
- Literature Review
- McDonald’s: Company Analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Change in the number of customers
- McDonald’s: Company Analysis
- Behavior patterns and eating habits of customers
- Changes in McDonald’s approach toward food manufacturing and product quality
- Company’s marketing strategy
- McDonald’s customer communication framework
- Present Knowledge Gaps
- Research Method
- Sampling Strategy
- Data Collection Strategy
- Data Analysis Framework
- Research Limitations
- Thematic Analysis
- Key Changes Observed
- Key Trends in Behavior Changes
- Connection to Frequency
- Assessment of Research Results
- Key Conclusions and Implications
- Research Limitations and Their Effects
- Conclusion and Recommendations
To support the study, evidence and theoretical frameworks from respective sources will be provided. Academic, peer-reviewed journals dated 2016 or later will be used for the study. Among the key databases, Springer, ResearchGate, Elsevier, and ScienceDirect will be utilized. To provide enough substance in the support for key claims, at least 50 academic articles will be incorporated into the bibliography.
It is planned that the research will be performed from November until May, ending on May, 3. Therefore, the study will take a total of eight (8) months. Over the course of the specified time period, the key evidence will be gathered and analyzed accordingly (see Appendix A).
Anaf, J., Baum, F. E., Fisher, M., Harris, E., & Friel, S. (2017). Assessing the health impact of transnational corporations: A case study on McDonald’s Australia. Globalization and Health, 13(1), 7. Web.
Besson, T., Bouxom, H., & Jaubert, T. (2020). Halo it’s meat! The effect of the vegetarian label on calorie perception and food choices. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 59(1), 3-20. Web.
Brentari, E., Dancelli, L., & Manisera, M. (2016). Clustering ranking data in market segmentation: a case study on the Italian McDonald’s customers’ preferences. Journal of Applied Statistics, 43(11), 1959-1976. Web.
Colicev, A., Malshe, A., & Pauwels, K. (2018). Social media and customer-based brand equity: an empirical investigation in retail industry. Administrative Sciences, 8(3), 55. Web.
Company analysis: McDonalds (NYSE: MCD). (2020). Web.
Dohmen, A. E., & Raman, D. R. (2018). Healthy food as a new technology — The implications of technological diffusion and food price for changes in eating habits. Frontiers in Nutrition, 5, 109. Web.
Dundon, M. (2016). Transparency in the fast-food industry: Utilizing mobile to capture new audiences [Doctoral dissertation]. California Polytechnic State University.
Fakih, K., Assaker, G., Assaf, A. G., & Hallak, R. (2016). Does restaurant menu information affect customer attitudes and behavioral intentions? A cross-segment empirical analysis using PLS-SEM. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 57, 71-83. Web.
Gheribi, E. (2017). The activities of foodservice companies in the area of corporate social responsibility – On the example of international fast food chain. Journal of Positive Management, 8(1), 64-77. Web.
Hollebeek, L. D., & Macky, K. (2019). Digital content marketing’s role in fostering consumer engagement, trust, and value: Framework, fundamental propositions, and implications. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 45, 27-41. Web.
Inoue, Y., Funk, D. C., & McDonald, H. (2017). Predicting behavioral loyalty through corporate social responsibility: The mediating role of involvement and commitment. Journal of Business Research, 75, 46-56. Web.
Kraak, V. I., Englund, T., Misyak, S., & Serrano, E. L. (2017). A novel marketing mix and choice architecture framework to nudge restaurant customers toward healthy food environments to reduce obesity in the United States. Obesity Reviews, 18(8), 852-868. Web.
Priyono, I. (2017). Effect of quality products, services and brand on customer satisfaction at McDonald’s. Journal of Global Economics, 5(2), 1-4. Web.
Raduzzi, A., & Massey, J. E. (2019). Customers satisfaction and brand loyalty at McDonalds Maroc. African Journal of Marketing Management, 11(3), 21-34. Web.
Veselinova, E., & Samonikov, M. G. (2020). Defining the concept of brand equity with radical transparency. In Global branding: Breakthroughs in research and practice (pp. 1-17). IGI Global.
Yang, Y., Asaad, Y., & Dwivedi, Y. (2017). Examining the impact of gamification on intention of engagement and brand attitude in the marketing context. Computers in Human Behavior, 73, 459-469. Web.
Zsóka, Á., & Vajkai, É. (2018). Corporate sustainability reporting: Scrutinising the requirements of comparability, transparency and reflection of sustainability performance. Society and Economy, 40(1), 19-44.
Appendix A: Timetable
|Deadline/ Milestones||November 2020||December 2020||January 2021||February 2021||March 2021||April 2021||May 2021|
|Analysis of key data||X||X|
|Search for available solutions||X||X|
|Overview and key deliverables||X|