As obesity becomes a growing concern in America, the glory of fast-food gluttony is ebbing away. To stay in touch with the changing mentality of their customers, most fast-food franchises have been scrambling to make some changes. Among them is McDonald’s, a brand often considered the sovereign king of fast-food corporations. They’re making experimental steps forward with a new “gourmet” brand of fast food with the newest Create Your Taste personalized dining experience.
Since the introduction of salads to the menu, the disbandment of the supersize mentality, and the beginning of McCafé coffee (designed to compete with café giants like Starbucks and Biggby Coffee), McDonald’s has been working out ways to rid itself of the old fast-food image.
McDonald’s newest development, the Create Your Taste campaign, is essentially a food bar with its first locations across Hong Kong. The restaurant system offers a customizable menu of burgers, salads, and an integrated McCafé menu, as well as other features like digital ordering, mobile device charging ports, tote-bag giveaways, hip uniforms for employees, and little “artisanal” touches like wire French fry baskets, wooden serving boards, and toothpicks in the burgers.
Create Your Taste advertising is designed to emphasize quality over quantity. America lost sight of this age-old concept in the years after WWII, but the mantra is now slowly returning with the influx of “foodie” generations. In fact, Create Your Taste was formulated with the Millennial generation and Generation Z in mind — showcasing the whole shebang as a sleek, digitalized, artisanal makeover of the fast food identity.
If there are two things today’s youth loves, it’s sleek, digitalized makeovers and Instagramming food with a tailor-made Insta-tag.
The newness of McDonald’s Create Your Taste campaign may be a driving force for the excitement around it, but the concept has potential. Taking what was once a utilitarian machine for spilling out cheap food quickly to road trippers, truckers, soccer teams, and generally people on the go and redefining it as a customizable, gourmet food experience with better food and a better atmosphere may be the next step for the fast-food industry as a whole.
What has helped McDonald’s in almost all their new ventures (excluding a few terrible products) is their persistence in strong marketing techniques and an ability to adapt to changing consumer desires. When customers wanted cheaper, larger quantities of food, McDonald’s complied with the Dollar Menu in 2002. When customers began to want aesthetically pleasing, epicurean food, McDonald’s introduced Create Your Taste.
The reign of McDonald’s is unavoidably one of the most successful brands in the food industry today, and it is certainly not, as some outrageously claim, on the brink of failure.