Old McDonalds Sings the Blues

Two long years of disappointing sales, topped off by really dismal reports for the 3rd quarter, aw poor old Mickey D’s. While the brass at the home of the Big Mac is bemoaning less than super sized profits, perhaps its time for a round of applause. Fewer people are eating at McDonald’s in the USA, which has them feeling somewhat green… around the gills and elsewhere.

Don’t worry about a bunch of new Mickey D’s popping up anywhere in the United States. Their market space is saturated. There’s an average of 4.6 stores per county already – 14,300 restaurants in operation, and they’re sales are down by 30%. Sales are slumping in Asia and Europe too. But this is where it gets really interesting.

According to the Wall Street Journal, big names in business management guidance blame their bloated menu for bogging the kitchen down – people are going elsewhere because the the wait too long. It couldn’t possibly be because for the most part what’s on the menu tastes horrible, or that the sodium level is through the roof, or that the food is very low quality? Then there is the bad press about the healthiness of what is served, and the concerns about GMO ingredients that has been flying around for the past several years.

These guys do have a point about the number of items on the menu and the vast differences of preparation types. Specialized fast food chains are smarter in the menu approach by sticking to one type of food and doing it well. McDonalds however, has gotten greedy trying to please all types of consumer at once, but this is typical of an organization that has gotten too big for itself. Like General Motors learned not long ago, you can’t keep all manner of brands and products spinning evenly all at once under one roof.

But now they think they want to go in a whole new direction, because they’re losing the young, health conscious population that wants a boatload of options to customize their experience. Focus on who you are, and in this case it’s cheap food in large quantities stamped out like cd disks on an assembly line. That’s what built your brand. What kind of salad do you think will be on the Dollar Menu? Maybe they can offer 3 carrot sticks and some special sauce for dipping. Right. You can buy a whole bag of baby carrots for under $2 just as fast as you can go through a drive-thru and get some old carrots sliced at a distant food processing center. Maybe faster.

Fresh is not fit for factory food chains. Last time I checked it was literally impossible to get slow food in 3 seconds flat. The green washing trick doesn’t work so well anymore. More and more people are wising up to what is wrong with the business model here, which probably has a good deal to do with increasingly dismal Quarterly Mac reports. It will get worse when they have to start listing the dietary facts for every item on the out of control menu too. If the job market was still like it was before the crash its highly possible the data would be even worse, because a lot of people are still forced to eat their cheap food due to dismal income and food deserts.

Even elephants have a life expectancy.

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Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine

Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.