In Japan, McDonald’s is the leading fast-food company that has a vast variety of foods and attractions. Successful marketing approach and best taken ideas from global practices, detailed manuals, and the company’s policies put Japanese McDonald’s on the top position on JASDAQ. Even in a period of economy clumps when peoples’ incomes are lower, the company receives high revenues due to a decrease in prices, which make food affordable for consumers with low incomes. In addition, it provides active partnership with the international environmental structures and organizations, specifically in the sphere of energy efficiency. McDonald’s Japan has a wide variety of food that included national components and sauces. The advertisements are produced including requirements of all consumers, and they reflect people’s instinctive bias to follow hunger reflex. Along with that, the company actively works not only in servicing customers but cares about own employees, giving them space for personal and professional growth.
The net of McDonald’s fast-food restaurants is the market leader among consumers all over the world, and it has established a strong reputation that has no strong competitors. After 40 years of conquering the Japanese market, McDonald’s became one of the top leading companies by its revenue even in times of economy clumps and anti-fast-food campaigns. Global tendency to ecology safety innovations in processing, energy efficiency and general satisfaction of customer’s demands affected Japanese McDonald’s policy. Today, Japan has the second largest rate of McDonald’s restaurants in the world. Annually, the number of establishments raises as the menu variety and universal approach to each customer follow the demands and preferences, which is the result of rigorous work on marketing and advertisement.
From the perspective of global tendencies, McDonald’s in Japan satisfies general demand in cheap fast-food, which will be well-served. In addition, the local company affiliations follow global bias and even fashion to energy efficiency and ecology safety, and especially this support is valuable since fast-food brands bring harm to the environment as well. Consequently, recycling campaigns, improved materials, utilization of garbage, optimized energy consuming and many more innovative approaches became a part of the company’s measures in Japan. In this context, there is a point in discussing not clear globalism affecting the company’s policy, but “glocalization, which refers to global products or services customized to suit local cultures”. In Japan, McDonald’s is more likely a restaurant than a cheap fast-food place as it accepted in the United States. Its successful policy inside of the employees’ team and collaboration with social organizations is vast, especially in ecology safety and energy efficiency. The paper provides complex analysis of McDonald’s company in Japan in terms of general issues, comparison with the United States and marketing with strong emphasis on successful tolerance towards Japanese customers and developed CSR.
What Is McDonald’s and Why It Attracts Customers
In terms of financial capacity and income availability, even in times of weakened economy, McDonald’s is the largest and most attractive fast-food chain with robust sales. According to Japan Echo Inc., “McDonald’s Japan accounts for about 65% of the domestic hamburger market and boasts the highest sales in the entire restaurant industry”. In 2001, the Japanese McDonald’s company conducted public offering of their actions on JASDAQ, which is the analog of the American NASDAQ stock market company. Interesting to note that the interest to the company activities was high even though its IPO was made in conditions of a long-lasting slump on the stock market. Japan Echo Inc. provides statistical data that demonstrated the brand’s top position on JASDAQ when the IPO price was “4,700 yen (37.60 U.S. dollars at 125 yen to the dollar) per share, and the total value of all the stock offered was 625 billion yen (5 billion dollars)”. The success of the company includes well-planned marketing strategies, detailed manuals and affordable prices that, however, do not make the place of the low-rate. Japanese society and industry widely use manuals so the lowering of prices is one of the most common marketing practices within distribution of food services. The marketing informational component includes emphasis on the Japanese traditional values through media advertisement, flyers, the Internet and social media, as well as corporate social responsibility. The Japanese bought the American franchise on the establishment of the McDonald’s fast-food chain in Tokyo in the 1970s. However, local business insiders predicted fast fall of the McDonald’s business since it was too unknown and, in terms of traditional preferences of the customers, the chance they will like new food was low.
As consequence of this threat, the branding approach of McDonald’s in Japan went through evolution following local market demands. That is why, the market strategy expansion of McDonald’s in Japan had quickly rejected the American model predicted by franchises, and thus, it started implementation of the system of direct management. Although McDonald’s was originally created and founded in the United States, the main point of why it was so well-accepted in Japan is hidden in proper adoption of Japanese marketing strategies. For instance, instead of American original name, the brand was called “Makudonarudo”, so it could sound more pleasant on Japanese manner.
That is why, the Japanese market is so widely opened for McDonald’s. For more than 40 years, this brand has been a part of the Japanese diet. The local company also launched a menu with included Japanese-style ingredients (Teriyaki McBurger), which actually brought popularity to the establishment. Consequently, in the next five years, the number of McDonald’s stores grew to more than 100 stores. In the next five years, the brand became so popular in Japan that McDonald’s “annual sales of 70 billion yen” put it in the leading position in Japanese restaurant and food business. The location of McDonald’s establishments is mostly concentrated in big cities: its biggest number is in Tokyo, being the international business and tourist center. However, there are many smaller McDonald’s establishments all over Japan servicing people 24/7.
Comparison of McDonald’s in the United States and Japan
A valuable factor of success in both countries was in extremely detailed manuals of an astonishing size and breadth. It consists of 25 chapters that include all operational processes from methods of preparation, cleaning, quality control and until ethics of servicing customers and mimics. If to put all these manuals into one book, it will take approximately 500 pages with detailed description of the process of cooking and aesthetical appearance of burgers. For instance, “the manual calls for the bottom of the double-sided hamburger grill to be set to 177 degrees Celsius (351 degrees Fahrenheit)” . The usage of manuals substitutes work of cooks which, in turn, guaranties proper quality, service and food taste that will satisfy customers. New coming employees working on a part-time condition receive express courses on their working responsibilities and operations they must do. In terms of Japanese conditions, these manuals have spread among bureaucratic and private sector areas, and later, penetrated into the Japanese inns that followed retro style. Moreover, the company provides regular training on professional and personal growth. Consequently, McDonald’s became attractive not only as the fast food corporation producing tasty food for low price, but also it became an example of optimized working organization and management with the elements of contemporary supervision of employees.
Within the issue of local policy, specifically in the sphere of human resources, McDonald’s tries to avoid discrimination based on “age, education background, gender, nationality etc.” Since this practice is a necessary part of general policy, Japanese company management also tries to maintain this tradition, particularly, through increased rate of employment of females on permanent active positions with the perspective of career growth. For instance, the company practices monitoring and evaluation of achievements each employee reflects on the scale. The practice of internal job posting system has a positive feedback among permanent employees in terms of their perspective of professional growth, promotion and work in coherent team.
Speaking about the menu differences, Japanese McDonald’s has stronger national preferences approach in spicing. In the United States, everyone is aware of basic menu, which includes Big Mac, Fish Mac, Chicken McNuggets, Cheese Burger, Hamburger, Happy Meal, McNuggets, McFlurry and Quarter Pounder. One of the Japanese McDonald’s menu peculiarities is that it incorporates a wide variety of fish products and Asian components and specialties: Sesame Ebi Filet-O Sesame Buns, Wasabi sauce etc. Some burgers like McPork, Mega Mac, Teriyaki McBurger, etc. are rather typical for Japan than for the United States. In this case, the value of McDonald’s brand increases since it desires to tailor its products to demands and needs of consumers in any country.
There is the difference in product size serviced in the United States and Japan. For instance, there is the larger size drink container in Japan than the one in the United States. In addition, free refills in Japan are usually not allowed. There is difference in Coca-Cola and soda calories: comparing to the United States, in Japan, its rate is much lower. Speaking about French fries, they have less quality in Japan and the portion is smaller. Recently, the new scandal appeared around the chocolate French-fries McChoco Potato, which in fact attracted so many curious about unknown taste people with positive and negative feedbacks. Burgers also have smaller size, which seems like the Japanese preference in smaller portions is a part of traditional outlook in food consuming. However, comparing to the United Sates, its prices are cheaper, which means that the company cares about its profit through the tolerated attitude to the incomes of their consumers.
An important item is about the general atmosphere, which is very different in both American and Japanese McDonald’s. For instance, in the United States, McDonald’s is rather a cheap place to eat while in Japan, it is a popular hangout spot. For Japanese, McDonald’s is rather like a restaurant of an American type. The mental rhythm has also differences: while in the United States, breakfasts are crowded and busy; in Japan, all goes slowly and not many people come here for breakfast. The coffee beverages in the United States have a bit more varieties; however, it does not make the fast food spot a restaurant. Thus, in some minimal differences, the cognition of McDonald’s in the United States and Japan is different in terms of mental peculiarities and rhythm of life in both countries.
Marketing and Advertisement
In global terms, McDonald’s is one of the leading companies which shows corporate social responsibility (CSR) through donating to the international organizations, addressed sponsorship, specifically maintaining health care, sports, and ecology spheres. Moreover, the support of those initiatives is widely provided for inner co-workers and outside organizations. There is an argument of Farrell and Mangan “A few marketing studies suggest that perceptions of CSR may generate increased resources from one specific category of stakeholders: consumers” . It shows that the relation between McDonald’s CSR and potentially increasing revenue is obvious. This marketing method is the most effective advertisement, making a positive image of McDonald’s in Japan and covering scandals related to the company.
As evidence of this efficiency, the company actively collaborates with NGO’s through partial sponsorship of their ecology actions, specifically, touching the issues of energy efficiency. McDonald’s sponsors informational campaigns and puts its logo on booklets and brochures. Active partnership with Greenpeace provides sustainable control over the residues and makes the brand more trustable among its consumers. William Ferrell is right stating that “In Japan, which has a high population density, waste and recycling are significant concerns” , consequently, it is a good advertisement that McDonald’s has to show in terms of the ecology care promo. Annual donations to the activities of Japanese Conservation International brought best practice processes borrowed from the already developed ones in the United States, UK, France, and Canada. Furthermore, McDonald’s Japan is an active collaborator with the worldwide network of companies (including Coca-Cola), who maintain the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). The company’s annual reports show that McDonald’s in Japan “have developed best-practice processes for gathering and tracking restaurants’ energy use data” , which reflects best global practices and ISO standardization of the process.
One of the best working marketing tips widely used by McDonald’s in Japan is in resolutely lowered prices, which, in turn, brings growth of consuming. Even when in 1980s Japan appeared in conditions of economic slump, the survey provided by McDonald’s company showed necessity in decreasing of prices in terms of general lower income of customers and their financial capacity. That is why, the cost of food became almost twice cheaper, and later, this practice returned in April 2000, when the financial crisis touched Japan again.
In addition, the Japanese McDonald’s management made a regular practice of decreasing the costs of supply and increased the number of smaller establishments, which was more profitable considering the tendencies and market observation. The point was in attracting more customers, even the ones of older age who would never eat burgers or French fries. Thus, the target market of McDonald’s in Japan includes workers, children, families, and anyone who is seeking for a fast satisfying meal. Along with that, it includes preferences of the people age 25 – 54, which is the major age group population in Japan. Additionally, it includes not only Japanese habitants, but also tourists and foreign students who are attracted by cheap exotics of the world brand.
Speaking about the advertisement achievements, the last Japanese campaign was organized at the beginning of 2016 by Studio Colorido. It encouraged youth “to join the crew” in terms of applying for a job at McDonald’s. The plot is simple: a young girl comes to McDonald’s, and there she meets a manager proposing her a position. The girl agrees, but she is so clumsy that everything falls down, but her manager-mentor always supports her and appears to help in any moment. Simultaneously, the audience briefly observes the process of cooking French-fries, hamburgers, and packing processes. After all, the girl becomes professional worker, and her manager notices she can do even more so she gets promotion to the position of manager. At the end, the audience sees retrospection to the beginning: a stranger girl comes to McDonald’s, where a nice manager lady (the main character) proposes her work. The video is positive and is conducted in typical Japanese anime style with fashion, appearance, mimics, and intonation.
Another recent example of successful marketing is provided social media campaign about an 18-carrat golden nugget given to one lucky customer (fig. 1). It is related to appearance of the new mascot, Kaito Nuggets. The visitors’ task is to unmask him by posting his whereabouts on social media every time they notice him. The company strives to promote some sauce innovations in menu, specifically, Fruits Curry Sauce and Creamy Cheddar Cheese. Thus, “21 runners-up who miss out on the 50-gram nugget will instead be awarded a five-piece pack of nuggets for 39 days” . This campaign especially attracts the main customers’ target – families and youth.
Figure 1. Golden Nugget Campaign (Yeung)
It is important to note that Japanese McDonald’s advertisement is not always childish. One of the examples is the 15-second video of 2006, where young attractive girl dressed in McDonald’s style: red hair, red and short yellow dressing and on the contrasting blue background. She plays with “McGrand Tomato burger” and tomato, but, simultaneously, provokes auditory by touching her face, lips, and clothes near provocative body parts (fig. 2). The video producers emphasized some other significant things like face expression, red shoes with pointed toes, etc. A woman is sexually attractive and makes McDonald’s food look like that. This advertisement was created with the purpose to attract youth of active social life and is mostly translated during the late time. It clearly shows that the brand McDonald’s can satisfy natural instincts of all age groups since sexual attraction is same instinct as hunger.
Figure 2. Japanese McDonald’s Ad (Lewis)
In advertisements of fast-food, it is important to support positive note in all ideas since it directly affects consumers’ cognition. Food advertising that promotes “snacking, fun, happiness and excitement directly contribute to increased food intake.” In these terms, the approach of McDonald’s in Japan is correct as it simultaneously involves different categories of consumers. Moreover, it has some Japanese national coloring that is mentally closer to its people (again, the principle of globalization works). Further modernization of the company will bring new ideas and innovative approach including technical and food moderations that will have no equal competitors on the Japanese market for the next five-ten years.
Thus, McDonald’s in Japan is the second world largest fast-food network of restaurants that follows the principle of toleration of the Japanese consumer’s needs and following their national taste preferences. For more than 40 years of occupying Japanese market, McDonald’s still has no equal competitors neither by the quality and by the taste of food nor by service and advertisement. Satisfaction of global and local demands specifically in ecology collaboration and energy efficiency assisted in creation of worldwide image. Proper marketing, collaboration with authoritative organizations and well-developed corporate social responsibility brought resultative outcome since the brand is recognizable, and the number of McDonald’s establishments increase annually. Comparing to the United States, the Japanese consider McDonald’s rather as the restaurant than a cheap fast-food spot. Nevertheless, its prices are still lower comparing to the ones in the United States, and the portions are smaller. The variety of menu, which includes Japanese traditional ingredients and exotic Asian tastes, makes it attractive for both local habitants and tourists.