Mcdonald’s Marketing Strategy: Lessons from the Golden Arches

Parapapapa! Who’s lovin’ it??Did I trigger your cravings for Big Mac ? by any chance? Sorry, not sorry!

Today, I want to ask you if you know anything about McDonald’s besides their menu. ? Can’t recall anything? 

Well, if you are someone who likes to know more about the ones who make your food, then my friend, you’ve come to the right place!?

Allow me to present to you the most successful face in the history of marketing- ‘McDonald’s’!??


Remember the clown mascot of McDonald’s? Whether you liked him or were scared of him, let me tell you that the guy goes by Ronald McDonald. 

About McDonald’s

McDonald’s is a rather legendary multinational food chain from America, headquartered in Chicago. Did you know that it was most popular for its hamburgers back in the day??

With over 36,000 restaurants spread across 100 countries, McDonald’s is amongst the ultimate success stories of contemporary times. 

A major chunk of McDonald’s success can be credited to its founder Ray Kroc’s three-legged stool philosophy. He emphasized partnerships with the so-called three legs- franchisees, suppliers, and employees. ⚗️

All this while, the man kept promoting the slogan “In business for yourself, but not buy yourself.” 

Today, McDonald’s has established itself as a popular choice even beyond America. The brand has, in fact, made a big name for itself in many developing nations of the day.

McDonald’s History in Short

The history of McDonald’s goes back to 1954. 52-year-old Ray Kroc stumbled upon a small and successful restaurant in California that sold burgers, fries, and beverages.

It was run by the McDonald brothers ?- Dick and Mac, who were looking for a new franchising agent. Well, lucky for Kroc!?

In 1955, Kroc founded the McDonald’s System, Inc., purchasing exclusive rights to the name and system six years later. 

Kroc focused on creating consistent, high-quality food and standardized methods. His three-legged stool philosophy relied on the core principles of quality, service, cleanliness, and value.

He built an efficient supply system and launched Hamburger University for the training of franchisees in 1961. 

Koroc’s legacy lives on, as witnessed by many of us today.


In 1998, McDonald’s made an investment in the fast-Mexican chain ‘Chipotle’ which had 16 restaurants back then. By 2006, as Chipotle expanded to 500 locations, McDonald’s ownership of the chain also increased to 90%. But McDonald’s sold its share to stay focused on its own brand.

Marketing strategies of McDonald’s

Why don’t we look at some tactics that McDonald’s employed to win the marketing game for so many years?

Product Innovation 

McDonald’s constantly works on product innovation. The fast food chain did not restrict itself to hamburgers and fries. It diversified its offerings to include a wide variety of choices- flavored fries ?, an extensive selection of burgers ?, cold and hot beverages ☕️, soft serve ?, etc. 

This strategy has helped McDonald’s cater to people of all age groups. It has evolved to become a preferred family restaurant. Moreover, the brand is focused on continuously adapting to changing trends and demands of its customers.

Diversely Unique Menu

To establish a popular presence in countries outside America, McDonald’s adopted a flexible approach concerning its menu. You can taste local flavors if you visit McDonald’s in different countries. 

McDonald’s incorporated local ingredients to match local tastes. The teriyaki burger in Japan or the sticky coconut rice pie in Thailand- McDonald’s is all about innovating and embracing native flavors and preferences.

Have you tried any such special items from McDonald’s menu? 


In Hong Kong, McDonald’s also caters to weddings. Surprised? Wait till you find out what they offer. ?‍♂️?‍♀

Personalized Experience

McDonald’s focuses on tailoring the experience of various segments of its customers. In many of the restaurants, they offer free Wi-Fi ? to attract college students ?‍??‍? who often prefer McDonald’s.

Similarly, for job-goers, the brand offers convenient free apps to order meals on the go. The Happy Meal is a hit among children, but it also brings in the parents with them. 

Ronald McDonald ?

Ever since his debut in the 1960s, Ronald McDonalds has become one of the most popular mascots ever. The mascot excited many children by creating a fantasy world of happiness for them in the commercials. It was a marketing hit for the brand. 

Golden Arches

Besides the clown mascot, the Golden Arches became an iconic symbol and identity of McDonald’s. The brand used that recognition to its advantage in its restaurants as well as its commercials.  


In Sedona, Arizona, the Golden Arches are turquoise in color to represent the blue sky of the desert. Similarly, at the Paris Champs-Elysees, the Golden Arches are neon white to complement the lightning of the location. 

Parapapapa… ?

You must have finished the lyrics, did you? Well, ‘I am lovin’ it’ became a superhit tagline for McDonald’s. The jingle was so catchy that it easily found a place in people’s minds.

Toys ??

Happy Meals became a children’s favorite not just because of the taste or variety of the food items but also because of the little toys that attracted young customers. 

McDonald’s kept innovating the toys along with the meal. For instance, the meal offered Hot Wheels, Barbie, Ronald McDonald, etc. It also offered figurines related to popular movies and shows like Despicable Me, Power Rangers, Star Trek, etc. 


Were you the kid who went to McDonald’s just for the Happy Meal? Well, you’d be surprised to know that the fast-food giant is the largest distributor of toys in the world. 

Top Products of McDonald’s 

French Fries ?

The all-time favorite and best-selling french fries are offered in various seasonings- from plain salted to peri-peri, and with various dips. 

But have you ever tried dipping your french fries in a McFlurry or a McSwirl? 

Big Mac ?

The sesame-seed burger buns packed with a special sauce became a ‘Big’ hit. The Big Mac is so popular that recently it got two new variants- the Grand Big Mac and the Mac Jr. 

Snack Wraps ?

Wraps are the best way to have food on the go, and McDonald’s exploited that concept very well. Grilled, Crispy, or Buttermilk Crispy- how do you like your wraps?

Happy Meal

I have talked enough about this magical meal. Even though McDonald’s did not originally invent a kid’s meal, it sure nailed it. 

Egg McMuffin

English muffins stuffed with cheese, Canadian bacon, and a poached egg sounds delicious, right? Well, there we have, the beloved Egg McMuffin.

Apple pie/ Apple Slices ?

In 1992 McDonald’s introduced its based apple pie which took no time to become a favorite sweet indulgence. People were also offered a choice to choose apple slices as a healthier alternative.

McNuggets and Select Strips ??

In 1980, McDonald’s debuted their Chicken McNuggets, which are available in four shapes and loved by consumers.

Select strips were replaced by Buttermilk Chicken Tenders in 2017.

Salads ?

Surprised? I get it!

The fast food chain introduced salads on its menu in 2003. I believe salads are the most healthy alternatives you could choose at a McDonald’s. 

Double Cheeseburger ?

When in 2003, McDonald’s brought in its Dollar Menu; it also doubled the indulgence with its Double Cheeseburger packed with twice the beef and cheese. 

McGriddles ??

The ultimate breakfast sandwich with egg and bacon stuffed between pancakes became a staple at McDonald’s. 

McDonald’s Marketing Mix 4P Analysis


McDonald’s is a star in the world of burgers. It has, however, expanded its product mix to serve food and beverage items like hamburgers, sandwiches, chicken, fish, salad, snacks, sides, beverages, desserts, breakfast meals, and the McCafe.

By expanding and diversifying its offerings, McDonald’s keeps up with market demand while minimizing risks to ultimately improve revenues. 

The brand’s continuous innovation is the strength behind new product development, which attracts customers and ensures stability in business. ✅️


McDonald’s restaurants serve as the primary distribution channels and bring in the majority of the company’s sales revenue. 

Some restaurants also manage kiosks serving a limited lot of products, especially at professional sports and other events. 

McDonald’s offers its mobile app ? for customers to access information, place orders, and claim deals. 

Platforms like Postmates also let customers place their orders at McDonald’s. 


McDonald’s effectively makes use of bundle pricing and psychological pricing to attract their customers. ?

It offers discounted prices on meal combos and product bundles compared to purchasing each item separately. The Happy Meals and the Extra Value Meals, for example, seem to be offering value for money.

McDonald’s uses prices that seem more on budget. Their products are priced at $__. Ninety-nine instead of being rounded off to the nearest dollar. 


McDonald’s heavily focuses on advertising through TV ?, radio ?, print, and online media as their primary source of promotion. Promoting sales and freebies, especially, helps in attracting customers. 

McDonald’s also engages in public relations activities like the Ronald McDonald House Charities and its Best of Green environment program to enhance brand value.

It also engages in occasional direct marketing, which primarily targets corporate clients, local governments, and community events.

McDonald’s Top Campaigns

Raise your Arches ?

Can you make the signature arches with your eyebrows? Give it a try!

Well, in this commercial, you will see office workers’ raise their arches’ while they march out of their workplace to grab a McDonald’s.

The Gift ? 

A sweet commercial conveying a deeper meaning. A young man gets his mom’s car as his birthday present. Despite the car not being a brand new present, the son takes his present on a ride to McDonald’s and gets a McDonald’s for his mom as well. Sometimes, we should appreciate the little things in life. 

The List ?

What items would you add to your Christmas list this year?

This sweet campaign shows a little boy making a very long list for Christmas and even decorating it with all enthusiasm. But sadly, the list flies away in the wind. 

Can you guess what happens next? Watch to find out!

McCrispy ?

Maya Jama and Keith Lemon get together to tell the world how good the new McCrispy is. Office workers to bus takers- everyone is lovin’ the McCrispy. 

Love Affair ❣️

To promote The Signature CollectionTM, McDonald’s relies on the love story of two people but with a plot twist. The woman is in love with someone else. 

Can you guess who? Well, it’s the McDonald’s gourmet Signature burger. 

Amongst Family: Second Chances ?‍?‍?‍?

Through this series of campaigns, McDonald’s tells the stories of some of its franchisees and employees who either changed lives or their lives through second chances. This initiative by McDonald’s is focused on highlighting its impact on people’s lives.

Key Takeaways

McDonald’s is, without a doubt, a star player in the marketing game. 

The trust and loyalty it has built since its inception provided a major support system that helped the brand become a global success.


Why is McDonald’s marketing successful?

McDonald’s focuses on understanding the various segments of customers they have and catering to their needs accordingly.

For example, Happy Meals and Play Zones attract kids who are obviously accompanied by their parents. Similarly, products that are great to take on the go attract working people and even students.

The commercials of the brand, along with humorous print and billboard ads, are also created around these target segments. 

What is so good about McDonald’s?

The food served at McDonald’s is known to have a consistent quality all around the world. The idea of burgers, wraps, and even breakfast muffins seems like a simple and easy meal for people.

Additionally, the affordable prices, fast service, and hassle-free eating experience make it a preferred choice for regular eating. 

What is unique about McDonald’s marketing?

McDonald’s probably has the most popular and widely known brand symbol, tagline, and mascot.

It has worked a lot to engrave these identity markers in their customers’ minds all these years.

You must have also observed the same with the catchy jingle, the relatable clown, the “I’m lovin’ it,” or the “parapapapa.” 

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