Blog post

McDonald’s Turnaround–A Story Of Customer Experience Success

By Augie Ray | January 26, 2016 | 1 Comment

MarketingCustomer Experience

You may have heard that McDonald’s announced strong quarterly results yesterday. The quick-service restaurant chain reported a 5% increase in global same-store sales and the second quarter in a row of same-store sales growth in the U.S. after seven quarters of declines.

What’s remarkable (or perhaps not) about this tale of corporate turnaround is that no one, including McDonald’s CEO, is attributing it to any changes in traditional marketing. Virtually no mention is made of campaigns, advertising, content, social media, promotion or the like. This success story is all about customer experience–of changes not to messaging but to the product and service experience offered to consumers at each touchpoint.

The primary change driving McDonald’s recent success is the chain’s decision to offer all-day breakfast, but on the earnings call, CEO Steve Easterbrook also called out CX improvements such as a new streamlined menu, improved order accuracy, investments in food quality and ingredients, and menu simplification. McDonald’s implemented many changes this past year, including how Quarter Pounders are made to improve flavor, removing sandwiches from its menu to speed ordering and customer service, replacing margarine with real butter on its breakfast sandwiches, and increasing hourly wage and adding benefits to address concerns over workers’ compensation.

Certainly marketing and promotion played a part in getting the word out about these changes, but whether you read about McDonald’s turnaround on CNBC’s mad Money, Fortune or Business Insider, you will not find the words “marketing,” “advertising” or “content” in these articles. The thorough Business Insider review of McDonald’s 2015 actions mentions a single promotion among the 19 changes McDonald’s made in 2015–the launch of the McPick 2 deal.

Gartner has noted that “Customer Experience Is the New Competitive Battlefield” for marketers. McDonald’s just demonstrated how battles are won (and customer experience ROI is delivered) in the war for consumer attention, consideration and preference.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

Leave a Comment

1 Comment

  • Borhan El Kilany says:

    Your reference to Mac turn around plan always referred to marketing as communication, which is misleading.Excelling in customer service as a competitive advantage is a marketing job. The multiple innitiatives to improve food quality, speed of service , value proposition ,quality service at all customer touch points ,is an inherent part of the marketing game. Investing in digital online ordering & payment as well as introduction of delivery service in selective markets is a marketing led vision , needless to mention that the launch of breakfast all day which is a main transaction driver. Actually the organizational restructuring to develop a focused relevant management team for each segment , wether growing markets, immerging markets, highly established markets and so on is a strategic marketing vision to design relevant plans to each group that share the same , challenges and potential. Referring to marketing as a communication function is unfair to the Macdonald’s marketing team. Thank you.