Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Monday, 19 October 2015

Can McDonald’s Survive On Boozed Up Clientele Alone?

Can McDonald’s Survive On Boozed Up Clientele Alone?

The Debrief: While franchisees in the US say the company is struggling, surely it will prevail in the UK through its status as the perfect late-night boozy snack venue?

McDonald’s might have been, pre-Apple, America’s most recognisable export, but that’s all been changing. You see, ever since it’s been proven that McDonald’s isn’t that great for your body, they’ve changed their food, providing things like salads and wraps. They’ve also started selling coffee in order to get the Starbucks crowd in. But with places like Chipotle and Five Guys appearing healthier, and just doing variations on one thing (Mexican wraps and hamburgers, respectively), they’ve been stealing custom from right under the golden arches.

US franchise owners are bearing the brunt of this and have told a survey conducted by analyst Mark Kalinowski things like, ‘We are in the throes of a deep depression, and nothing is changing.’

And, ‘The CEO [Steve Easterbook, who has introduced all-day breakfasts and digital ordering kiosks as part of his “turnaround plan”] is sowing the seeds of our demise. We are a quick-serve fast-food restaurant, not a fast casual like Five Guys or Chipotle. The system may be facing its final days.’

According to The Independent, Kalinowski interviewed 29 franchisees, who operate 226 restaurants between them and got them to give their six-month forecast from 1 (bad) to 6 (excellent). The average score was 1.69, its lowest since the survey began 12 years ago!

We’d be pretty interested to see the results for UK franchises. Because McDonald’s isn’t the family restaurant it used to be, is it? Despite the lime green sofas, the salads, the option of coffee and the revolving door of guest products with international themes and special sauces, it’s lost a lot of its charm. Families go to Pizza Express or just host their own children’s parties at home (poor Ronald McDonald!) and older casual diners (tbt when you and your mates would go there on a weekend before sneaking into a 15 at the cinema and indulge in some light petting) have fled to Nando’s.

Which leaves the core clientele: the ones stumbling into a 24 hour branch seeking anything – anything – with fries and extra sauce, to mop up all the booze they’ve been chugging all night. Oh, and the people who were too drunk to even make it to McDonald’s and now, the morning after, need something to soothe them through a hangover.

Could McDonald’s survive on booze and hangovers alone? We’ll have to wait and see… if Steve Easterbook wants our opinion, though, a little more promotion of the chicken selects (delicious buttermillky-peppery fried chicken strips) would harm absolutely no-one. Apart from low-paid staff and chickens and arteries, of course.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

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What We Learned From Our Trip To McDonald's Shabby Chic Café

The Scientific Reason We Drunkenly Binge On Food

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Food, Boozing