Big Mac’s new India strategy – what about IP?

The Economic Times recently reported on McDonalds’ recent redirection away from children and towards teenagers, adults and even the elderly.

This calls for a major reassessment of the branding and IP Strategy. We’re all aware of the relatively recent “I’m lovin it” brand – but what else could McDonalds do from an IP perspective to make the most of the refocus?

Interestingly, the refocus hasn’t yet hit McDonads’ India website yet – when I recently looked at it, Ronald McDonald is still pretty prominently displayed – which is attractive to children (and maybe the elderly), but not so great for teens – right?

Here are a couple of thoughts to ponder – what do you think?

1 – Go local?
A key question for global brand owners is the extent to which they should customize their brand to each country (see my July 2006 article).

McDonalds have started down this path by offering more traditional Indian food (which may be more attractive to the adult customers) alongside it’s original fare.

So – would it make sense for McDonalds to generate brands and corresponding trade marks and design (including restaurant design) to evoke a more Indian set of emotions? The message would have to be carefully managed – but it would be along the lines of “we know we’re McDonalds, but we’re sensitive and enthusiastic about India”.

I think this would work very well. The trick would be to ensure that the brands and design sit well with the core message and brands which are consistent around the world.

2 – take the ‘Harry Potter’ approach?

Those in the branding game will be familiar with this. The concept is that with each edition of the books (and movies), Harry Potter has grown older with his audience. The question is whether the same technique can be applied by McDonalds – to each of their customer bases with their separate needs: children, teenagers, young adults, mums and dads, and the elderly.

Even if they decide not to grow the brand along with the audience, clearly by thinking about how to consistently deliver what people want in each of these groups, they are more likely to succeed.

The trick, of course, will be to maintain a central, overall message.

I think the core brands and associated trade marks can be used in this way – do you agree?


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