McDonald’s Marketing Mix (4P) Analysis

McDonald’s marketing mix, 4P, 4Ps, product, place, promotion, price, marketing strategy, restaurant business analysis case study
A McDonald’s in Gdańsk, Poland. McDonald’s marketing mix (4P) supports global business growth and maintains the company’s leading position in the fast-food restaurant chain industry. (Photo: Public Domain)

McDonald’s marketing mix (4Ps) involves approaches that meet business objectives in different markets around the world. The marketing mix defines the strategies and tactics that the fast-food restaurant company uses to reach target customers, in terms of products, place, promotion, and price (the 4P). In this business analysis case, McDonald’s has corporate standards that its marketing mix applies globally. For example, the company’s standards for productivity are implemented in the management of each company-owned and franchised location. McDonald’s also applies some variations in its marketing mix to suit the conditions of local or regional markets. For instance, the food-service company’s promotion strategies and tactics focus on online media in some countries, while television advertising is prioritized in other markets. The specifics of the 4P variables define the strategies and tactics that McDonald’s uses in executing its marketing plan and achieving related marketing strategy goals to grow the multinational restaurant chain business.

McDonald’s effectiveness in implementing its marketing mix contributes to the leading performance of its brand and business in the international fast-food restaurant industry. The company’s strategic management considers how its 4Ps relate to the marketing strategies of competitors, like Burger King, Wendy’s, Dunkin’, and Subway, as well as other food-service firms that compete with McCafé, such as Starbucks Coffee Company. McDonald’s marketing mix facilitates effective reach to target customers around the world. This condition supports the company’s global industry position, as well as the strength of its brand, despite the strong force of competitive rivalry shown in the Five Forces analysis of McDonald’s Corporation.

McDonald’s Products

As a food-service business, McDonald’s has a product mix composed mainly of food and beverage products. This element of the marketing mix covers the organizational outputs (goods and services) that the company provides to its target markets. McDonald’s product mix has the following main product lines:

  1. Hamburgers and sandwiches
  2. Chicken and fish
  3. Salads
  4. Snacks and sides
  5. Beverages
  6. Desserts and shakes
  7. Breakfast/All-day breakfast
  8. McCafé

Among the 4Ps, products are a fundamental determinant of McDonald’s brand and corporate image. The company is primarily known for its burgers and fries. However, the business gradually expands its product mix. At present, customers can purchase other products, like chicken and fish, desserts, and breakfast meals. McDonald’s generic competitive strategy and intensive growth strategies influence the product lines included in this element of the marketing mix. In diversifying its product lines, the fast-food chain satisfies market demand and improves its revenues. In terms of risk, a more diverse product mix reduces the company’s dependence on just one or a few food-service market segments. This element of McDonald’s marketing mix indicates that the firm innovates new products to attract more customers and improve its business stability.

Place/Distribution in McDonald’s Marketing Mix

This element of the marketing mix enumerates the venues or locations where products are offered and where customers can access them. In McDonald’s marketing strategy, restaurants are the most prominent places where the company’s products are distributed. However, the fast-food company’s distribution strategy utilizes various places as part of this 4P variable. The main places or channels through which McDonald’s distributes its products are as follows:

  1. Restaurants
  2. Kiosks
  3. McDonald’s websites and mobile apps
  4. Postmates website and app, and others

McDonald’s restaurants are where the company generates most of its sales revenues. Some of these restaurants also manage kiosks to sell a limited selection of products, such as sundae and other desserts. Some kiosks are temporary, as in the case of kiosks used in professional sports competitions and other seasonal events. This element of McDonald’s marketing mix also involves the company’s mobile apps. These virtual places are where customers can access information about the company’s food products and buy these products. For example, the company’s mobile apps for iOS and Android let customers claim special deals, find restaurant locations, place orders, and pay for such orders involving participating McDonald’s restaurants. Furthermore, customers can place their orders through the Postmates website and mobile app. This element of the marketing mix supports strategic goals based on McDonald’s mission statement and vision statement, especially in serving more customers around the world.

McDonald’s Promotion

This element of the marketing mix defines the tactics that the food-service business uses to communicate with customers. Among the 4Ps, this variable focuses on marketing communications with target customers. For example, the company’s marketing strategy provides new information to persuade consumers to purchase its new food products. McDonald’s uses the following tactics in its promotional mix, arranged according to significance in the business:

  1. Advertising (most significant)
  2. Sales promotions
  3. Public relations
  4. Direct marketing

Advertisements are the most notable promotion tactics in McDonald’s marketing strategy. The corporation uses TV, radio, print media, and online media for its advertisements. On the other hand, sales promotions are used to draw more customers to the company’s restaurants. For example, McDonald’s offers discount coupons, freebies, and special deals and offers for certain products and product bundles, as a way of attracting more consumers. In addition, the company’s marketing mix involves public relations to promote the fast-food business to the target market through goodwill and brand strengthening. For instance, the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the McDonald’s Global Best of Green environmental program support communities while boosting the value of the corporate brand. Occasionally, the company’s promotional mix uses direct marketing, such as for corporate clientele, local governments, or community events and parties. In this element of its marketing mix, McDonald’s Corporation emphasizes advertising as its main approach to promoting its products. The brand and other business competitive advantages specified in the SWOT analysis of McDonald’s contribute to the effectiveness of promotional activities in this marketing mix element.

Prices and Pricing Strategies in McDonald’s 4Ps

This element of the marketing mix specifies the price points and price ranges of the company’s food and beverage products. The aim is to use prices to maximize profit margins and sales volume. In its 4P, McDonald’s uses a combination of the following pricing strategies:

  1. Bundle pricing strategy
  2. Psychological pricing strategy

In the bundle pricing strategy, McDonald’s offers meal sets and other product bundles for prices that are discounted, compared to purchasing each item separately. For example, customers can purchase a Happy Meal to optimize cost and product value. On the other hand, in psychological pricing, the company uses prices that appear more affordable, such as $__.99 for a meal instead of rounding it off to the nearest dollar. This pricing strategy encourages consumers to purchase the company’s food products based on perceived affordability. Thus, this element of McDonald’s marketing mix highlights the importance of bundle pricing and psychological pricing to encourage customers to buy more products. The cost objectives, requirements, and limits in McDonald’s operations management account for the price points in this marketing mix.