Raising the burger bar in China

American brands looking for ideas on how to successfully engage  Chinese consumers using social media need look no further than mcd chinathat lovable clown Ronald, of McDonald’s. Not satisfied with dominating the fast food palates of small and big kids globally, Ronald is raising the bar in the one market every self-respecting brand with serious plans for  growth has its eye on – China.

Here’s how the clown did it:

  • Went to where the customers are: By opening a McDonald’s Super Value Shop on the site that killed eBay China, Taobao.com, McDonalds not only went to where its prospective customers were but it engaged them in an activity they already enjoyed – shopping for bargains online. Being a smart company, McDonald’s did not have people bidding for burgers but instead gave them an opportunity to bid for gadgets they coveted and expected to find on an online auction site like iPods, digital cameras, laptops and even cosmetics.

Picture 25

  • Understood its target market’s self-interests and used that to engage them: McDonald’s did its homework and identified the 25-32 age group as the dominant Internet users in China. Having found its audience, McDonald’s went a step further by identifying a self-interest that tied directly to its brand and specifically the Super Value Meals range. The target group had a desire to save money so McDonald’s used appropriate messaging – “McDonald’s offers value for money.” Via its online shop, 100 coveted products would be announced a day prior to bidding opening which meant that users had to check the site for what was coming up and then come back the next day to place their bids. Naturally, once you place a bid, you want to keep checking if your bid was successful and in order to do that you have to keep coming back to the site.

Picture 27

  • Kept them coming back for more, again and again: Usually on online auction sites, the seller is looking for the highest bidder. McDonald’s turned that rule on its head and invited users to bid DOWN, right down to the price of its Super Value Meals, about $2.41. Each bid reduced the starting price by just .15c and bidders could bid multiple times subject to five minute intervals between bids – a clever tactic that drove users back to the site repeatedly in the hopes of snagging an iPod or other gadget for just $2.41!

Picture 28

  • Gave users something to talk about: There’s one thing bargain hunters love almost as much as bagging a bargain and that’s telling other people about it. The campaign attracted a lot of user-generated ads touting the latest hot items up for grabs each day. The result? Between launch day on 11 February and April 20 2009, the McDonald’s shop had 2,580,000 visitors, viral by any definition of the word.

By clearly identifying its target audience, going to where they are online, tying its brand’s value proposition directly to the target group’s self-interest, giving them a reason to come back repeatedly and giving them something to talk about which resulted in a user-driven viral campaign, McDonald’s shows other brands how to use social media well, not just in China but in general.


5 Responses to Raising the burger bar in China

  1. Another excellent analysis of a successful campaign in an new country and breakdown of some lessons that come from its success. You clearly have a strong ability to find a great campaign example for a particular region and extract some insights out of it – a model that has worked well for your weekly blog posts in making them useful, enjoyable and highly readable. For yet another week, I highly enjoyed this post. (4)

  2. Shannon Barrett says:

    I really liked your blog because it was very engaging and you have a great writing style.

    I especially liked the end when you stated that people not only like to find a bargain, but more importantly like to tell others about that bargain…I thought that was a great point and definitely relates to social media and IWOM.

  3. Alex Greenbaum says:

    This is a great post; you took an interesting case study and broke it down into manageable (and useful) parts. I’ve read countless examples of how and why McDonalds dominates in the US and abroad, but this one is especially interesting given the auction/eBay element.

  4. juliaccartwright says:

    Great post – McDonalds is a master at entering new markets with an American product and successfully engaging new customers despite the language and cultural barriers. Your blog really helps to bring that case study to life in China and beyond.

  5. Evan Taylor says:

    Excellent post! I really enjoyed your breakdown! I would have liked have seen this detail on the demo on the KFC report someelse wrote to see how the American brands reached their brands. Btw, they had this great fruit pie thing that is 12 times better than the apple pie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: