How has McDonald's adapted their advertising in order to attract the Indian population's interest in healthy, vegetarian lifestyle, and how did they convince the Japanese population that was initially in denial of foreign products, and to a more general extent, culture; henceforth known as the Gaijin Complex?
To be successful in advertising, a company needs to understand and know what people are expecting in order to trigger the right feelings. They try to push the right buttons by showing the consumers that they need the product, and that with this exact thing their life is going to be easier. The need is not created, but the marketing triggers its wish to be fulfilled and satisfied. A commercial on average is composed of two elements; a picture and a sentence that describes implicitly the need. Bearing in mind that McDonald's has always focused on low-cost, time saving food and a relaxing, family-friendly atmosphere for the people, we will have a look at how they have transformed this values with regards to the cultures they wanted to penetrate.
The picture to the right shows one of the most used McDonald's commercials in India. As seen on the picture, the commercial is of a baby clown that looks a lot like Ronald McDonald, the primary mascot of the fast food chain. Upon knowing this, we can draw the conclusion, that, in addition to the marketing strategy that has already been mentioned; McDonald's is trying to attract families and a rather young population. They invite to a friendly atmosphere for teenagers as well as families with their kids, to enjoy rather cheap food in relaxed circumstances. Naturally, their object is to clearly highlight in the commercials the fact that they offer these facilities to the people.
Indian commercials focus mainly on videos rather than pictures and posters. In one of them (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QDs-tZ6EbCw) we can see two teenagers, a boy and a girl, eating at McDonald's. They look very happy and satisfied. Once more, McDonald's is targeting the young and dominant population in India. As much as 28 per cent of the population is between 10 to 24 years old, further noticing that the youth (minors; x<18) populations of the ‘3rd world' are increasing at an unprecedented and exponential rate; much faster than the older sub-groups. They are portrayed as teenagers, probably students, which can imply that; they have certain identification needs, they probably do not have that much money to spend, and they tend to follow trends. McDonald's intently portray themselves as a cool, hip, modern, western eating place. By focusing on teenagers who clearly show that they are happy and satisfied, they give an image of McDonald's being a place where you can be carefree, young and have fun.
There is one particular thing in this commercial that is very interesting and specific for Indian culture. In many Indian McDonald's commercials, they are singing during the clip, in the kind of way we find in Bollywood movies. Bollywood is one of the biggest film industries in the world, and it contributes to a significant part of the nation's income. Because Indian people have a generally considerably big interest for cinema and music, especially Bollywood, McDonald has included this type of culture in their commercials in order to attract the typical client. They have used what marketing is really about; including elements of the everyday life of the targeted segments.
According to results from an NGO survey hosted in 2013, Indians (66 per cent) are amongst the consumers who consider hygiene and cleanliness the most important criteria for selection of places to eat. A total of 24 per cent of Indians use the quality of service as a decision-making criteria to purchase a fast food brand's offer and 22 per cent rely on their perception of whether a take-away brand offers them healthy food options. When seeing these numbers, there is no doubt why McDonald's invested in dividing its kitchens into vegetarian and non-vegetarian zones, making sure they meet the cleaning standards and that the food did not get mixed up. However, the fast food chain focused their advertising on telling Indians that the charming and inviting restaurants did not indicate high prices, just a major focus on cleanliness. Furthermore, McDonald's focused on sponsoring local sports programs and making donations to visible charities, which further contributed to their positive image and increased its nationwide popularity
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