What Can McDonalds Product Managers Do To Capture Young Customers?

McDonalds needs to find ways to attract more young people
McDonalds needs to find ways to attract more young people
Image Credit:
Mike Mozart

The product managers at McDonald’s have a problem on their hands. A recent study revealed that among younger burger eaters, the millennials, only one in five has ever eaten a Big Mac burger. For a 61 year-old burger chain, this does not bode well for the future. McDonald’s product managers need to take a look at their product manager job description and realize that they have a new job on their hands: they need to figure out how they’re going to go about capturing younger customers.

The Challenge That McDonalds Faces With Younger Customers

If you were a McDonald’s product manager and you woke up one day and realized that today’s younger generation was no longer visiting your restaurants and buying your food, what would you do? If you are like most of us, you’d realize that you need to start to have a discussion with this segment of your market in order to better understand what their wants and needs are. If you understand these, then you can create a dining experience that they’ll be willing to visit you to experience.

Here in the 21st Century, when you want to strike up a conversation with someone we all know how to go about doing this. Social Media. There are a number of companies out there that do a very, very good job of using social media to communicate with their customers: Starbucks and Zappos, have been doing this for years. They use social media to deal with all sorts of things like customer complaints, generate ideas, and to run promotions.

As recently as two years ago, McDonalds really had no way to respond to anything that was being said about it online. What makes this sorta amazing is that the McDonald’s global brand is mentioned online once every one to two seconds. McDonald’s has finally gotten around to setting up their own social media team. The product managers have set up digital media hubs in London, Singapore, and Oak Brook, IL. The goal of this team is to help McDonald’s find ways that they can win back the millennials that the company has lost to competitors who serve fresher food.

McDonald’s Product Manager’s Plans For Capturing Younger Customers

We all view social media as being a powerful tool that can be used to reach out to customers. This has been shown to be the case when there are customers with complaints – unhappy customers can be dealt with quickly and turned once again into happy customers. However, experts who have spent time studying social media caution product managers that the focus that they may apply to social media could end up producing very little return for their efforts. The number of tweets that a company sends or the number of Facebook likes that they receive do not necessarily translate into increased sales.

Social media has already turned out to be an important communication tool for the McDonald’s product managers. Their target market, millennials, started to use Twitter to complain about the fact that breakfast was not being served at McDonald’s past 10:30 in the morning. Based on this input, the chain has extended their breakfast menu to now be available all day. This change has paid off for McDonald’s. A recent survey of millennials revealed that 78% of the respondents said that they had visited a McDonald’s at least once in the past month. This was the best result that McDonald’s had seen in the past three years. Now that’s something to add to your product manager resume!

Recently, when the McDonald’s product managers were getting ready to roll out a new advertising campaign that talked about how their burgers are prepared, instead of setting up a focus group to test their ads, they turned to social media. The product managers decided to run ads on both Instagram and Facebook talking about the source, quality, and taste of their burgers. The feeling was that this type of advertising allowed McDonald’s to tailor their ads to the millennials and their specific needs.

What All Of This Means For You

Over at the very large fast food restaurant chain McDonald’s the product managers have a bit of a problem on their hands. One of the largest groups of consumers, millennials, are not eating at McDonald’s restaurants as much as the company would like them to. This means that the McDonald’s product managers need to take a careful look at their product development definition and determine what needs to be changed in order to capture the younger customers.

The first step in this process is to strike up a dialog with their target customers. The way that this gets done these days is to become active using social media tools. McDonald’s has gone ahead and set up three separate digital media hubs worldwide. The hope is that this will help them to win back customers that they have lost. The company is going to have to carefully evaluate what kind of benefits their social media involvement yields for them. It has already yielded one success in helping the company to understand that their younger customers wanted to be able to get breakfast menu items all day long.

Social media is a big deal. More importantly from the McDonald’s product manager’s point of view social media is how one of their most important target markets, millennials, choose to communicate. Taking the time to get involved in social media is probably a very good idea because it will allow McDonald’s to listen to what their customers are saying about them. The product managers are then going to have to figure out what steps to take once they know what their customers really want.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: When it comes to social media, do you think that McDonald’s should do more listening or talking?

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