Having a cold is not always the best time for in-depth ruminations but I was watching a report on this on CNN and it got me thinking about McDonalds.
The story now is that McDonalds is thinking about adding a touch of Starbucks savoirfaire by bringing baristas to their fast foods to serve espresso coffee. The commotion also started when a Consumer Study revealed that McD's brewed coffee tasted better than any other. While arguable, the story does contain the seeds of a bigger question: how did McD join the Starbucks category? Weren't they supposed to be playing in different leagues?
Starbucks supporters are quick to point out that there is no way McD can compete with the upholstered purple armchairs Starbucks sports and that this is truly a non-problem. I would point out two things:
1. In the late 1990s when the fat craze got going, McDonalds counteracted by introducing a varied range of salads and fruit based deserts. In Europe alone, McDonalds reinvented itself as the breakfast and lunch-on-the-go destination of the young exec living on the fast lane with breakfast bagels and zesty salads [yes, true, the salad sauces did have more calories than three buergers but hey... it's about perception, right?]
2. when they realized that it was not enough to serve salads and coffee in plastic environments presided over by a clown, McDonalds started redesigning its spaces to look more like an adult coffeshop. In 2006 they introduced the "Forever Young' concept (scroll down for info) and started building even high fashion restaurants.
Now they are reconsidering their strategy once more and going after the huge income of Starbucks. I find McDonald's and excellent example for the power of reinvention without losses. It has not lost any of its old appeal or old customer base, but it manages to attract new customers from previously untargeted groups unlike Starbuck's who seems to be unable to expand a formerly successful concept.
And in Romania, if it picks up early on the international direction it may virtually block Starbucks development (especially since those who own the Starbucks franchise have already started off on the wrong foot by placing their shops in Malls).
communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.