Anyone reading this with children know "Happy Meals" and have purchased more than your fair share, whether by choice OR begrudgingly. What is interesting is this statistic: Happy Meals are approximately 10% of McDonalds sales and you might just say…"yawn". However that 10% is greater than Panera Bread, IHOP or Dairy Queen sales according to Technomic, a company that provides extensive market intelligence, as well as interpretation for the food and foodservice industry.
According to Ad Age, McDonalds worldwide sales for year end 2009 were approximately $30 Billion, so $3 Billion is really significant for a product line within a major brand.
Technomic's 2009 Kids and Moms Consumer Trend Reports states 37% of children chose McDonald's as their favorite fast-food restaurant, Subway comes in at 10% and Burger King at just 8%. Wow… McDonalds beats out Burger King almost 4 to 1, now that surprised me to no end.
I have written about the trends in fast food that Kids are back in Restaurants and there is more to selling food than Features and Benefits. In the case of the Happy Meal, it is the Emotional connection the kids have to the product, Happy Meals. Technomic states that the toy that comes with the Happy Meal is the largest influence for the children, approximately "…87% of six- and seven-year-old kids and 80% of kids ages eight and nine said they enjoyed getting a toy with their kids' meals".
What may not be so obvious here is McDonalds can also expand it's adult offerings such as McCafe line of coffees and beverages and their ever expanding line of salads or as they say, Freedom in a Bowl, a line of 10 healthier for you options simultaneously to promoting Happy Meals. And why is this so important? Well... how many kids drive to McDonalds? None! So McDonalds can span appealing to children and adults at the same sitting.
McDonalds is really smart about recognizing they have multiple customer segments. The Technomic Report Brochure has an interesting chart that describes 9 Mom Segments. "Stressed Single", "On-the-Go", "Conscientious" account for approximately 38% of respondents to their survey. They sure sound like the ideal customer segments that would be Happy Meals and a Freedom in a Bowl Salad, then a McCafe to take in the care (or probably more accurately the mini van or SUV). So I guess it is no wonder McDonalds is consistently on top of the pack within the Fast Food segment.
As with most of my articles, it is not the information that is so critical but what are the insights from the data. Insights tell you what the date really means. So what insights can we gain here?
1. Successful brands go beyond tangible attributes in marketing their products. Happy Meals appeal to children due to the toy… which has nothing to do with the food. When you watch television or read, start to notice how brands try to appeal to your Beliefs' or Emotions. Remember the old Coke commercials with 'Mean Joe Greene"? If you don't click the link to see that 1980 commercial.
2. The parent is the "gate-keeper", or decision maker here. So they sell to children but also appeal to the parent's "Emotional Need" to make their kids, well… happy!
3. While appealing to the kid's emotional connection to the toy, McDonalds is making the parent feel good about going to McDonalds through their sub-branding Salads, which are "good for you" offerings and McCafe, which are "affordable indulgence" offerings. Affordability is one of the single largest factors weighing on consumer purchase decisions these days.
4. McDonalds is really smart about recognizing they have multiple customer segments and creates a menu that makes…hmmmmm… everyone happy!
All the best!