Sunday, June 20, 2010

Domestic Arches with a Global Presence

This wouldn’t be a global business tour blog without one last blurp on well, business. During our trip we had many opportunities to see how their local businesses operate from large jewelry chains to small tourist shops. Really, all of these places run pretty much the same way as any other business here in the U.S. Despite the country you are in, and the language the people are speaking, the basic language of business seems to stay the same. Yes, there are different cultural norms that absolutely must be understood, but when it really comes down to it, each place has a product or service they are willing to offer up for some sort of reward. It’s how they get that message across that breaks the language of business into different dialects.

For example, we can look at McDonalds, a company that started here in the United States but has made huge strides in the areas of creating a global presence, even with its very American origins. In fact, during one of our tours, our guide joked pointing to a McDonalds and describing it as the American Embassy.

McDonalds has proved itself to be a global force with its golden arches being one of the most recognizable brand images in the world. That’s pretty impressive; we now seek French fries over the humanitarian aid given by the Red Cross. McDonald's restaurants have been established in 119 countries and territories around the world serving about 47 million customers each day. The organization has nearly 31,000 restaurants worldwide and employs more than 1.5 million people. That is a big company.

We saw a McDonalds almost everywhere we stopped during our trip, and it is no doubt that they have got this global expansion under control with their marketing techniques. For one, they use of very simple and extremely recognizable symbol, their arches. For some of us, those arches almost seemed like a life savor and we knew exactly what that gold meant.

An even bigger advantage for McDonalds marketers is that they do their homework. We were quickly able to tell that a U.S. McDonalds is not exactly the same as one is Austria, France, or Switzerland, but it still is very recognizable as a comfortable Micky D. The organization understands the cultural and taste differences for their clients and adapts their core ideas to the location. First off, in Europe you will notice that McDonalds are less of a fast food place and more of a sit-down restaurant: the scenery is nice, plenty of places to sit, pleasant music and so on. Still, you can go right up to a register and get a tray full of fries and your favorite burger. Each location adapts to the taste of the area. In France, we could order the Burger Royale, basically a bacon cheeseburger, or even chicken curry for a meal. Switzerland and Austria served local beer on their menus. I remember when I was in Peru and Ecuador, they often served white rice with meals instead of fries. Basically when it comes to cultural intelligence, McDonalds has put the work in.

McDonalds has been a global leader for some time and a symbol of what globalization means. Some refer it as McDonaldization and there is even the “Theory of Golden Arches” relative to war. The magazine, The Economist, has the Big Mac Index to compare currency among countries. The point is that this organization that started as a small restaurant opened by two brothers in California has put in the right global business efforts to create one of the most well know and successful brands in the world through creative and adapted marketing techniques.

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