How McDonald’s Conquered France

By Covering Business     March 14, 2012

If a new McDonald’s franchisee were allowed to pick any street in the world to set up shop, he probably wouldn’t go with the Champs-Élysées. The French ethos celebrates cultural authenticity, gastronomic craftsmanship and the rights of the proletariat. None of these ideals are consistent with the image of an American fast food chain.

Yet McDonald’s is thriving in France. Over the last five years, the company has added an average of 30 new restaurants a year there. Today, McDonald’s has more than 1,200 restaurants in France, and the average French customer spends $15 a visit, about four times as much as the average American one.

Knowledge@Wharton has published a case study on McDonald’s success in France. Among the authors’ findings:

• McDonald’s won over French consumers by adapting to their tastes. It changed its ingredients to include French cheeses and mustard sauce. It began baking its own baguettes. It rolled out a healthier chain called McSalad.

• McDonald’s invested heavily to redesign their restaurants, outfitting them with flatscreen TVs, free WiFi and fireplaces. The goal is to furnish consumers with a modern and welcoming atmosphere.

• McDonald’s made an active effort to engage with its local suppliers and support locally popular ideals, including environmental preservation.

Read the full report here.


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