McDonald’s has a bad rap, and with the increasing popularity and availability of healthier on-the-go meal options, such as fast-casual chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, and Saladworks, consumers aren’t lovin’ it anymore. McDonald’s has therefore taken to social media in an effort to revamp their image of unhealthy — and maybe even downright unnatural — food, to one that promotes healthy meal choices.
As such, they’ve recruited former Mythbusters host Grant Imahara as part of their new social media campaign. Imahara, with his approachable nerdy-but-cool demeanor, is seemingly far less frightening than McDonald’s previous Facebook and Twitter Happy Meal Mascot, which drew an immense amount of scorn and mockery from consumers and which coincided with four consecutive months of declining, less than stellar U.S. sales. While the mocked mascot may not be directly linked to declining sales, it contributed to the public’s poor image of the McDonald’s brand.
According to a third-quarter study conducted this year by Brand Keys, McDonald’s has suffered declining sales across all age groups and generations. Millennials, Gen X- and Y-ers, and even Baby Boomers are spending less and less at McDonald’s, characterizing its food as “cheap,” and not “quality food.” However, McDonald’s has been suffering from much more than declining sales and the social media blues. Ironically enough, social media may just be what ultimately repairs their image.
In an effort to shift consumer behavior and dispel negative associations regarding their food, McDonald’s has taken to social media to keep it real with consumers by answering their questions. And consumers definitely got real, asking tough questions like “What is mechanically-separated meat, and how do you turn it into a nugget?” and “What’s with that pink slime?” and also “Is there horsemeat in your hamburgers?” The realest question of all may have been, “Does McDonald’s even sell real food?”
In addition to the social media campaign, McDonald’s is now accepting Apple Pay, a new mobile payment system that allows users to pay with a smartphone app rather than their wallet. Cloud based-POS systems have taken the retail and restaurant industries over by storm. The convenience and security of cloud POS systems allows businesses to have access to important sales data at all times, from any location where an internet connection is present. Large retailers and restaurant chains use cloud POS systems to carefully monitor sales. The Golden Arches will likely use this technology to track the efficacy of their new social efforts, as well.
While the future of McDonald’s has yet to be determined, the trend towards healthier, more natural foods makes it seem as though fewer people may be asking to have fries with that in the future.