• Wed, Feb 22 2012

Market Research: McDonald’s Customers Aren’t Lovin’ Their Food Quality

unhappy ronald mcdonaldsIf their failed #McDstories twitter campaign wasn’t proof enough, new reports comfirm that McDonald’s aren’t lovin’ it—or at least, they’re waking up to the fact that the fast food chain doesn’t serve high-quality or healthy fare. Although global sales are still soaring, company insiders say that internal data shows that McDonald’s consistently ranks lowest for quality perception as compared to rival fast food chains. To fix customers’ worries over issues like mice in the hamburger buns and burgers made with the stuff of yoga mats, McDonald’s says it plans to address issues like food quality, nutrition and sourcing. We hope they do.

Social media backlash and internal company data aren’t the only indications that customers aren’t happy with the quality of food at McDonald’s. According to Advertising Age, market research firms also confirm that, while McDonald’s remains a strong brand with huge revenue throughout the world, customers don’t necessarily think highly of the food:

According to Millward Brown, it’s the fourth-most-valuable brand on the planet, with an estimated brand value of $81 billion in 2011, up 23% from 2010. Harris Interactive, which just released its 2012 Reputation Quotient study, gave McDonald’s a 71.77, or “good,” score.

Jeff Davis, president of Sandelman & Associates, a market-research firm specializing in food-service businesses, said that McDonald’s rates high in variety, indulgence, affordability, kid appeal and convenience. But the flip side to those results is that the chain rates weak on taste, quality, healthfulness and friendliness.

This is probably because every few weeks we hear a new rumor about the toxic chemicals used in their food, the unsanitary conditions in their restaurants, or the inhumane meat suppliers that provide the McRib. Because McDonald’s is such a big brand, there’s no shortage of attention paid to these kinds of discrepancies in the quality and safety of their food, and it looks like customers, while still tempted by their drive-thrus, are starting to feel at odds with the kind of food that McDonald’s seems to be serving.

Heather Oldani, McDonald’s director of U.S. communications, says the company isn’t worried, but that they’re taking the opportunity to be more proactive

…there is an opportunity for us to answer some of the questions that customers may have, that influencers may have, about our menu, our commitments to the community and in the areas of sustainability — things that frankly we haven’t been as vocal about … in the past.

We’re actually going out there and having a dialogue … about areas that we are making strides in, and [we] also hear feedback.

We hope that works out better than those #McDStories.

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