Would you like salad with that?

Do you think McDonalds’ move to make salads a “normal” combo choice is proactive or reactive?

What will its effect be (will new consumers start coming to McDonalds; will existing consumers start eating more healthfully; will McDonalds’ reputation shift from greasy food to healthy food, etc.)?

Given the option, what percentage of existing McDonald’s consumers do you think will shift to salads over fries?

Full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/27/business/mcdonalds-moves-toward-a-healthier-menu.html?_r=0

More than new menu items, a new approach to "healthier" options

More than new menu items, a new approach to “healthier” options


13 thoughts on “Would you like salad with that?

  1. Mark Patey

    I think it is hard to say exactly whether this is a pro/reactive move by McDonald’s. Obviously when we think of McDonald’s it doesn’t scream out ‘healthy’, and as McDonald’s holds a dominant position in the fast food industry the company’s actions will bring forth a large influence on other seemingly ‘unhealthy’ fast food joints to follow suit (if successful).
    In this way I do think the move is proactive as with the increase in obesity in the US, it is clear that at some point major market leaders in the fast food industry are going to have to make a move towards offering healthier options towards their menu’s; otherwise the global problem will never be resolved!
    You could also say the move is reactive as recently the company has been achieving flat sales across much of its businesses, with the financial picture not predicted to change anytime soon.
    This is interesting because Mcdonalds is taking on a significant risk with this move to make salads a “normal” combo choice, and the move may cost a substantial amount in revenue.
    This seems to be a long-term strategical move by Mcdonalds to reposition the company (as they’ve already been trying to do with adding salads, and showing calories on boxes) as a fast food restaurant with healthy alternatives, and I believe it will be difficult to see the impact of this decision in the immediate future. Wait maybe 5-10 years and we will have a better idea!

    In terms of how many customers will shift over from fries to salad, I don’t think we will notice too much of a difference in the first few years. But if Mcdonalds adjusts the way they market, and encouraging children to choose low fat options (milk), and fun ways to eat fruit, I think we could see some gradual improvements in obesity rates as well as improve the ratio of ‘salad to fries’ consumers in the medium-long term.

    Personally, I think this move by Mcdonalds will help to lower the obesity rates in the US over the long term, but I also wonder if by continuing to go healthier whether Mcdonald’s will lose some of it’s existing less health conscious target market?

  2. Mark Mayhew

    I personally believe that McDonald’s introduction of salads in the combo is a reactive business move. The launch of their premium salad line for the U.S. in 2003 (roughly around 2005 for Canada) shows that indeed they had a clear understanding of the consumer shift to the “healthier” alternatives. It also outlines that they did indeed have the necessary resources and supplies available to develop the combo alternative well before today.

    I believe they are implementing these initiatives now because of competition pressure threatening their market share. In particular, Subway does a great job as positioning themselves as a healthy fast-food alternative by showcasing the low-fat and calorie options in their advertising. However, upon entering the store I would doubt that people actually follow through with ordering all the reduced fat and calorie options, mainly because we are unsure
    which specific items they apply too and just assume everything is healthy. Also, consumers usually enter the store when they are hungry so seeing all the food behind the counter may entice them to get more toppings or an bigger size. (Much like trying to go grocery shopping on a empty stomach… never a smart idea!)

    Therefore, I think McDonald’s is striving to push a similar perception in the consumers mind. By showing how they have healthy options like the new combo salad mentioned, and the recent veggie wraps, I think it tricks people into seeing it as a healthy outlet and hoping they choose McDonald’s as their food destination. However, I don’t think people will actually follow through with the healthy purchases and these items are more used as a means to get you through the door, almost like a bait-and-switch tactic.

    After all, your getting a juicy, greasy hamburger… might as well treat yourself to the fries too right?

  3. Ryan Fernandes

    very reactive, health trend emerging and Mcdonalds just wants to keep its customer base. With too much information available to consumers, it is impossible for Mcdonalds to hide behind its greasy food any longer. Offering these items can help the transition into changing the perception of the brand but I think that it is too weak to do so alone and that MD might dilute some of its brand image to existing customers who just want something unhealthy

  4. Stephanie Rathakrishnan

    I understand that McDonalds is making this move to keep up with the shift to healthier alternatives. However, it is difficult for me to see people going to McDonalds and ordering a salad. McDonalds is the leader of the fast-food industry, an industry known for their unhealthy food. I know that when I go to McDonalds, I am usually treating myself so I wouldn’t go for the salad. With that being said, this option can help with the obesity epidemic in US in that they are providing healthier options for their customers. Although, some may choose the salad over fries, overall I don’t see a large percentage of consumers making the switch.

  5. Timea Cunderlik

    I think it is an excellent proactive move by McDonald. Their decline in sales could have been caused by many factors, but I believe that their old fashioned stomach pain giving menus could have been the main reason for losing customers. A modern customer living a busy life may still need to reach for fast-food from time to time, or a family may need to choose such option on long trips, or just to “treat” the kids on some afternoon, and I believe that having the salad option will definitely make customers feel more comfortable about ordering food at McDonald. The guilty feeling of ordering the burger, fries and pop may be now eased a bit by having the salad as an option, and hopefully many healthy drinks will follow. A lot of folks will see now McDonald more favourably, and I believe that many customers will return to try the salad as part of the combos. Would customers skip the fries for McDonald’s side salad? In my opinion: ABSOLUTELY!

    While this move is reactive in that it follows the population’s preferences for healthier food, the general awareness about obesity and also the government’s efforts to address health issues, I believe that this move is mainly proactive from the perspective of overall competition for market share. This move appears to be an excellent strategy chosen by McDonald who undoubtedly creates their road map of current and future trends in customer’s preferences based on well analysed information. The heads of McDonald with a rather warrior attitudes seem to have made a smart step ahead to re-attract the losing customers by changing the perception of their brand by offering the side salad. I definitely expected this move long time ago, since I would still like to seek out McDonalds especially while driving south to reach Florida beaches, I would like to see it as a smart choice for my family! With regards to branding, they definitely rock with this move!

  6. obeverett

    In my opinion, I believe the move by McDonalds is reactive. The trend towards increasing awareness of obesity has been around for a while, so I am surprised that it has taken them this long to fully commit to providing healthy alternatives. However, compared to other fast food restaurants that are the main competitors of McDonalds, such as Wendy and Burger King, I would say that it is a very proactive move for McDonalds in this market. It seems to be the leading fast food restaurant in providing a variety of options. Although McDonalds will always be perceived with the greasy fast food stereotype, it is definitely making the move to shift its reputation and position itself as a healthier alternative in the mind of the consumer.

    I believe it is a great strategic decision for McDonalds. I do not believe that existing customers will start eating healthier, because if they were already loyal McDonalds fans, consuming healthy food probably wasn’t a big concern for them in the start. However, I do believe it will attract new consumers. I don’t eat a lot of fast food, but when I do I would prefer McDonalds, because they have lower calorie alternatives that I can eat without the feeling of guilt. It also taps into the market of commuters who want to eat healthy but don’t have the time to eat at home/restaurant.

  7. blaineaberdeen

    In my opinion, I do think that McDonalds’ move to include salads in their combos is proactive because it is necessary in order for them to remain competitive in the fast-food industry. As health-trends are becoming more and more important in today’s society if McDonalds does not keep up they will fall behind! This does not mean I think they will earn large profits off of the switch to salads. I do not believe their existing clients will switch their tasty, delicious, and extremely fattening fries for a healthier choice. People who go to McDonald’s know all the information about the food! They’ve seen super-size me, they’ve read it in the media and now the nutritional facts are being thrown in our face! We can’t escape the fact that their food is straight-up bad for us. But once and a while, why not? We deserved it… as it said in the article, if I want healthier fast food I will go to Sub Way or a Pita Shack.

  8. Jeffrey Lei

    I agree with Blaine, McDonalds’ has always been very aware with their consumers’ preferences and emerging competition. For them to stay competitive, I think this move is an attempt to keep up with shifting consumer tastes and to shake its fast-food image. Chains such as Panera, for example, have become more popular because they’re seen as offering higher quality food for a little extra money that are healthy for you and made fast. Burger King has also offered a lower-calorie fry “Satisfries” to stay competitive as well http://news.yahoo.com/burger-king-launching-lower-calorie-french-fry-022314443–finance.html.
    This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has introduced healthier options, they introduced the option to substitute egg whites in all its breakfast sandwiches and launched a range of chicken and all-veggie wraps. The important thing is that they’re providing options so consumers can come in and get what they want. You can have the Quarter Pounder one day, and get the salad or grilled chicken sandwich that the next time.

  9. Mallory DeMille

    I think this article is kinda hilarious. McDonald’s is the king of kings in the fast-food industry, so for them to be introducing the salad option is quite humorous. In fact, some studies show that certain salads served at fast food restaurants are in fact higher in caloric intake than the meaty burger and fries.

    With all of that said, I’m 100% for healthy eating. In my opinion, however, as someone who eats relatively healthy, I would never go to McDonald’s in the first place. For other people like me, even if they were travelling, I think they would make the conscious effort to find another place to eat due to “it just being McDonald’s”. McDonald’s having a salad option just wouldn’t cut it for me. With that said, I think people who frequent McDonald’s in the first place may be more likely to make an effort to choose the healthier options. Healthy eating is everywhere in today’s society, which means people are more aware of what they’re eating. However, it’s still McDonald’s. They have this image of being greasy, unhealthy, fast, and cheap.

    A high five to McDonald’s for trying to lean towards a healthier menu, but that doesn’t change how people see them. I think it will take more than just a salad with some fresh fruit for McDonald’s to be seen as a healthy fast food option (ever just the term “healthy fast food” is a tad contradictory). Existing customers may decide to choose a salad, but they may also buy from McDonald’s because they know what they like and will be resistant to change.

    Props McDonald’s, but I will continue to pack my own lunch thank you.

    Mallory DeMille

  10. Rachel MacDonald

    I think that this move by McDonald’s is a reactive move. It is a move in order to keep up to competitors and the trend towards healthier alternatives. I do not think that it really fits well with the brand however, as fast food restaurants aren’t known for their nutrition. In fact, people go to fast food restaurants in order to get their grease fix. If people actually did want a true healthy alternative I think that they would be making meals in their homes or going to places such as Subway–where you can pick and choose what goes into your meal. I understand that McDonald’s is incorporating these salads into their menu in order to remain relevant but it isn’t consistent with their brand image.

  11. tiffanywtlee

    In my opinion, the move by McDonald’s is reactive. I think McDonald’s launched the salad combo choice just to match with the market trend of eating healthier. As Mcdonald is known to be a “fast food restaurant”, I do no think that its reputation will shift from greasy food to healthy food by offering the salad combo choice. However, for myself, after having a meal at Mcdonald, I always feel guilty and usually the meal makes me feel “sick” from the greasiness. I like McDonald’s burgers but I would actually replace the fries with salad just to lessen my guilty feelings ( And I am not a big fan of fries). Just like me, I believe some female customers would actually like to try this combo option out so that they can feel less guilty!


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