Marketing strategy is essential for the success of a product in a target market as argued by Philip Kotler (1988). This is mainly because of the increasing diversity in the nature of the customers and the stiff competition in the market. In this essay the marketing strategy of Mc Donald the leading conglomerate in the fast food restaurants and services industry on selling vegetarian burger in the UK. Furthermore, the consumer behaviour for vegetarian burger in the UK is critically analysed in order to justify the approach of Mc Donald’s approach to deploy the identified strategy.
The company under debate: Mc Donald Plc in the UK is the subsidiary of the American conglomerate Mc Donald Inc who specialise in fast food (burgers and fries) restaurants across the globe. The company is well established across the west and has a wide range of fast food products to cater the customer requirements and the market demand.
The vegetarian burger is a key product for the company in the UK (Company Profile, 2005). It is further interesting to note that the company promotes vegetarian burger as its key product mainly in the UK among the western countries apart from its operations in the Far Eastern countries like India where the company pioneers in vegetarian range of burgers and fast food products.
The marketing strategy for any product comprises of three key elements as argued by Frances Brassington and Stephen Pettit (2003)
The above three elements mentioned might appear to embrace the 4Ps of the marketing mix without the Place facto in the scene. This is mainly because of the fact that the marketing mix is the heart of the overall marketing strategy for any product in an organization as argued by Frances Brassington and Stephen Pettit (2003). Since the ‘Place’ factor is analysed under consumer behaviour in next section, the other three elements that form the marketing strategy were discussed in this section.
Philip Kotler (1988) argues that the consumer behaviour plays a vital role in the designing of the marketing strategy by an organization to either promote the sales of an existing product or for launching an existing product. This is clear in the case under debate where the company has devised its marketing strategy to reflect upon the consumer behaviour in the UK food market.
Simon Taylor (2001) argues that the increase in the awareness for vegetarian diet as an alternative in the UK meals is evident since the late years of the 1990s itself. The fact that the consumers for vegetarian food not only in the fast food industry but also in the overall consumer food industry right from the supermarkets up to restaurants since the dawn of the twenty-first century (Simon Taylor, 2004) further justifies that the consumer behaviour towards the vegetarian food in the UK has been increasingly positive. The major driving factors for this state in the target market are identified by Simon Taylor (2004) as mentioned below
Awareness: The increase in the awareness among the general public who comprise the consumers in the food industry that the vegetarian diet is a healthy option for overcoming obesity and other health problems is the primary element for the drive of the consumers towards vegetarian range of food products.
Scientific developments: The continuous research on meat based food products and the establishment of the fact that the animals (pig, cow etc) that are slaughtered for producing meat can carry germs that cause diseases like the transfer of malarial bacteria from the female anopheles mosquitoes into pigs eventually transferring into human beings causing malaria to the consumers has increased the pre-caution among the consumers to avoid meat products in their food. The above argument might appear weak since the strict adherence of the quality and hygiene standards laid by the government among the meat retailers might contradict the above statement. But the fact that the transfer of disease causing germs can grow in meat faster than in vegetables as argued by Simon Taylor (2001) supports the argument.
The strive of the government to encourage the vegetarian food in the diet among the UK general public is the major cause for the consumer behaviour towards the vegetarian foods. The fat nation campaign by the BBC in 2004 is a classical example for the support of the media towards eliminating obesity through encouraging the general public to change towards vegetarian diet.
Furthermore, Isla Gower (2004) argues that the fast food retailing in the UK has grown tremendously with the increase in the retail parks in the geography. This is mainly because of the fact that the general public or the consumers are increasingly treating the process of shopping as a outing event with the family rather than perceiving it in the generic form of buying essentials. This attitude of the consumers has increased the sales in the fast food centres like Mc Donald Plc that is present in the retail parks or in the cit centres where the public gather to spend their time in leisure. The above scenario with the arguments on the increase in the awareness on the vegetarian diet apparently increases the demand for vegetarian range of fast food.
The above arguments justify the consumer behaviour elements that attribute to the marketing strategy of Mc Donald Plc in promoting the Vegetarian burgers in the fast food industry. The fact that the awareness among the consumers that the fast food products are rich in fat and are not healthy were the major elements that contribute to the customisation of the vegetarian burger as Corn burger since corn is very low in fat making the vegetarian burger as a healthy alternative fast food.
Also, the customised range of vegetarian meals apart from burgers with the salads as option to fries in the retail outlets of Mc Donald justifies that the above mentioned arguments on the consumer behaviour towards vegetarian diet and obesity are the driving factors for the marketing strategy of the company.
The discussion on the marketing strategy of Mc Donald Plc for vegetarian burgers makes it clear that the company is dynamic in nature to respond to the changes in the market. Alongside, it is also clear that the design of the marketing mix which is the heart of the marketing strategy should reflect upon the target market demand in order to increase the sales proving the arguments of the academic authors mentioned in this essay. The analysis on the consumer behaviour has also revealed that the consumer behaviour in the UK fast food market was the major element for the marketing strategy of Mc Donald Plc in selling vegetarian burger. Alongside, the insight into the company’s strive towards increasing sales through a range of products in vegetarian fast foods further justifies that the consumer behaviour is the key to design the marketing strategy for any product in an organization.
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