没错，麦当劳是西式快餐市场上的“大块头”，它在全球130个国家开设的3.8万家分店雇佣了200万名员工，每天为全球6800万人提供服务。尽管如此，还是挡不住食客和投资者纷纷投向质量更高，也更好玩的Shake Shack、Five Guys Burgers and Fries、In and Out Burger和Smashburger等市场新入者的怀抱。不过，尽管遭受了一些小小的挫折，但麦当劳或许已经做好了反击的准备。
为了挽救因品牌形象、产品质量和定位及运营问题导致的业绩损失，麦当劳也尝试过一些权宜之计，比如增加汽车穿梭窗口的数量（这些窗口贡献了其营业额的70%），并推出目前这款以“示爱”为主题的怪异广告，但所有这些都无法解决食品质量、运营和形象方面的深层问题。它在“超级碗”上打的“用爱付款”（Pay it with Lovin）广告也遭到了无情的嘲笑，其副作用估计要延续到情人节，当这轮广告按照计划结束的时候。
With Monday’s quarterly earnings release, McDonald’s has gone from the frying pan into the fire.
It reported that global same store sales were down by 4.8%, versus the expected 1.2% dip. Its once high-growth Asian markets were down 12.6% versus the expected 8.4% drop.
Indeed, it is an ironic time for the $72 billon burger business, where 12 hours after the 65 year-old McDonald’s MCD -1.35% fired its CEO Don Thompson, Danny Meyer, founder of 14 year-old Shake Shack SHAK -1.10% , fired up his burger chain on the New York Stock Exchange with a $1.7 billion value, doubling its IPO price of the day.
Yes, McDonald’s is the big cheese in this market, with 68 million people served daily in 130 countries, 38,000 outlets, and 2 million employees. Despite that presence, diners and investors alike have flipped over the higher quality, fun entrants such as Shake Shack, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, In and Out Burger, and Smashburger. But despite the company’s stumbles, McDonald’s may now be posed to start firing back.
Despite strategic and operational missteps shared by the fast food giant’s management and board, there was no sugar coating over the need for change nor was there a vilification of the company’s beloved, albeit unsuccessful, leader. Moreover, the company’s Chicagoland-oriented board did not need outside activist investors to force needed changes.
McDonalds’ missteps are more complex than its distasteful financial results. Recent results showed the first declining same store sales in 12 years and the fifth straight quarter of declining sales revenues and a plunge in profits. These financial records reveal problems in the company’s strategy, execution, and leadership, not an industry-wide problem. In addition to the soaring prospects of its competitors, even McDonald’s spinoffs—Boston Market (2007) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (2006)—were positioned for success when they were liberated.
In short, McDonald’s has been caught in a whirlwind of confusing brand identity paradoxes; a situation in which the company’s inadequate products, confusing messaging, and overly humble messengers have aggravated its sinking public image. Consider these five quandaries:
1. Food quality. The fast-food chain’s tries at healthier menu options did not work. Now people associate McDonald’s with the hamburgers with “pink slime filler” (ammonium hydroxide), which the company only discontinued in 2011 amid an expose by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. How sad that the company’s burgers were once endorsed by leading nutritionists, such as Jean Mayer, as a healthy, rare treat! In June 2014, Consumer Reports cited McDonald’s as the purveyor of the worst-rated burger in the nation. Wendy’s now fares better on account of its low prices. Meanwhile, a double Shackburger, fries, and black & white shake would ring the bell with 2,000 calories, far more calories than what you’d get from similar items at McDonald’s.
2. Food safety. Long revered for its food safety in Asia and China in particular, as well as the Middle East, McDonald’s and Yum Brands have lost credibility as they had to close a meat processing facility in 2014 for continuing food safety problems
3. Pricing policy. In its attempts to woo people away from the cheap dollar menu items and value meal offers toward high quality food, traditional customers were confused if price was the focus or not. Now it is Sonic Burger, not McDonald’s, that leads in simplicity and low prices.
4. Standardization vs. customization. McDonald’s was long criticized for not allowing customers to “have it your way.” So they swung to the opposite end of the pendulum, offering so many varieties that customers were confused by more than 130 items while service speeds—a key ingredient for fast food—slowed dramatically.
5. Supplier sourcing.Once a master of sourcing channels to the point that it appeared like a supply chain hegemon, McDonald’s was ambushed by slowdowns at the Port of Los Angeles, without any effective contingency plan. This left the fast-food chain French fry-less in key markets, like Japan.
McDonald’s attempted to respond to the loss of business over these image, quality, positioning, and operations problems, with band aid solutions. Expanding the number of drive-thru windows, which accounts for 70% of its business, and the current weird campaign about “showing love” do not address the deeper problems in food quality, operations, and image. In fact, McDonalds’ schmaltzy Super Bowl “Pay it with Lovin’” campaign was met with ridicule and continues to backfire all the way to its planned expiration on Valentine’s Day.
Yet an even deeper problem had to do with the company’s succession drama. Indeed, McDonald’s has had five CEOs in a dozen years. The universally respected and experienced operator Don Thompson was not the board’s intended successor. In fact, he was their third choice candidate.
CEO Jim Skinner’s presumed successor, Mike Roberts, quit in 2006, reportedly complaining that Skinner was not clear enough about his intended succession schedule. Another initial favorite was Ralph Alvarez, who had to “retire” due to a sudden concern over his knees, at age 55, with a single day’s notice in 2009. The news shocked the company, as he left the company in the aftermath of a second wave of rumors over personal conduct problems. Published allegations of serial sexual misconduct with subordinates forced Alvarez’s exit when he was previously fired by CEO Jack Greenberg.
Skinner himself was not expected to take the reins as CEO. He came into the job after two McDonald’s CEOs died young. James R. Cantalupo died of a heart attack, and his successor, Charles H. Bell, left with cancer. (Bell died in January 2005.)