Monday, 4 January 2016

McDonalds but not as we know it

This week the fast food giant McDonalds opened a new concept store in the trendy shopping district of Admiralty in Hong Kong. The interesting glimpse into the future of fast food has seen the introduction of a ‘food bar’ style restaurant with a heavy emphasis on customisation. This is far from the traditional McDonalds model that has made the franchise so successful.

Source: Instagram @vjeffz

The traditional look of a typical McDonalds has also been replaced with ultra modern brush stainless steel and glass food cabinets. This new restaurant known as ‘McDonalds Next’ has an unrecognisable industrial design, with its only identifying features being the golden arches adoring the windows.

Self-service is a big part feature of the restaurant, which gives customers the opportunity to pick and choose the features of the food they eat. This is a long way from the one-size fits ethos that has been synonymous with standardised McDonalds of the past.

As a University of Sydney student I have already been able to experience the new McDonalds style restaurants. Last January, McDonalds launched another concept store called ‘The Corner’ in the leafy suburb of Camperdown. Other than the small McCafe logo, you would be forgiven for not even knowing that McDonalds even operates this establishment.


The main difference is you won't find any Big Macs, fries and strawberry shakes at this café. Instead you might find Lebanese lentils, tomato and basil soup, cesar salad wraps and craft soda.


Earlier this year in Australia, McDonalds rolled out the ‘Create Your Taste’ platform across many of the restaurant chains. This offered customers the opportunity to custom build their own McDonalds menu options with a range of buns, toppings, sides and drinks. This new tool has more the traditional McDonalds look and feel, although it does feel slightly strange having waiting staff serve food to your table.

McDonalds are able to charge a price premium for this product and service, delivering your items on an artisan wooden board with even a small basket for the fries.


These concepts and new ideas show that McDonalds are willing to change and adapt its model to fit the varying requirements of its customers. In 20 years time I believe McDonalds will still be serving its legendary Big Mac, Quarter Pounder and other iconic items, as these are a central part of its history and identity. Whether or not it is predominantly known only as a fast food chain is however another matter.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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