McDonald’s has hit on multiple current consumer trends at once with its new push towards supply chain transparency. In the UK, in recent years, much of McDonald’s marketing has been focused around trust. From dispelling myths about what its eggs are made of, to reassuring parents that a happy meal need not contain quite so much fat, sugar, and salt as they maybe did a few years back.
Many marketing claims have been made over the years in a clear response to widespread myths and criticisms of the quality of its food, ‘100% British and Irish Beef’ being one of them. Therefore, the launching of an interactive map hits many of the same notes in its quest for consumer reassurance. It allows consumers to view the journey of any given ingredient, whether it is potatoes for fries or lettuce for Big Macs. The meat now comes from a nationally recognised quality assurance scheme, Red Tractor. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, sourcing-transparency and ethics are more important than ever to consumers. GlobalData’s Covid-19 Recovery Survey shows that 38% of respondents in the UK stated they saw how ethical/sustainably sourced a product is as being more important than before the pandemic.
The obvious trend to identify whenever a fast-food giant attempts such a marketing push would be health and wellness, but one could argue that it is not health credentials but trust credentials the marketing executives are trying to express. In a world where corporations are looked on with arguably more scepticism in our social-media age, dispelling myths is of great importance; controlling the online narrative is key. It’s not just the public who are prone to unhelpful-myth-perpetuation. Rivals Burger King early this year released an ad showing a whopper going mouldy over the space of a week in a direct reference to the widespread belief that McDonald’s burgers are so artificial they do not decompose.
Stating ‘farmers are our most essential ingredient’ in its press release for the map, it is clear that the company wants to draw attention away from corporate structures and cramped kitchens and towards hard-working British farmers. Doing so pushes the notion that McDonald’s is not a faceless corporation with a foothold in every British County but one (Rutland), but an integral part of our shared local economy and community.
Other companies can learn from McDonald’s mission to brand itself differently. By launching this interactive map, they are giving consumers more than they asked for. Most people will never check which farm produced the onions on their Big Mac, but the fact they could if they wanted to builds a company-consumer trust not typically seen in fast-food.