International round-up: McDonald’s expands in China, Marriott teams up with Alibaba

Plus Australian alcohol brands face new ad rules and the launch of Verizon’s new loyalty programme.

McDonald’s looks to double stores in China by 2022

McDonald’s is lovin’ it in China. It has plans to almost double the number of outlets in the country over the next five years.

The fast food giant has formed a “strategic partnership” with conglomerate holding companies CITIC and Carlyle Group, selling most of its China and Hong Kong business to both partners for approximately $2.1bn.

McDonald’s, which is hoping the partnership will help it expand in the world’s number two economy without using too much of its own capital, said it expects to increase the number of stores in mainland China to 4,500 by the end of 2022, from 2,500 now.

“China will soon become our largest market outside of the United States. We are excited to join forces with CITIC and Carlyle for better localized decision-making to meet changing customer demands in this dynamic market,” McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook says.

READ MORE: McDonald’s bumps up estimate for stores in China by 2022

Verizon rolls out new loyalty programme

Verizon’s in-house agency 140 has been tasked with unleashing its creative excellence onto the business, and its first project is finally seeing the light of day.

The tech giant has decided to enter the already overcrowded market of loyalty programmes, by adding its own into the mix.

Diego Scotti, chief marketing officer of Verizon, says the new programme is a way of making the company more of an “experiential brand.” Registered customers are able to earn a credit for every $300 they spend. Such credits can be used for rewards like a Lady Gaga concert or a $5 gift card to Starbucks, depending on each month’s offerings.

But there’s a lot riding on the loyalty programme, as consumers have become increasingly disillusioned with them – especially when they are offered by phone providers. According to a recent report from customer engagement agency Bond Brand Loyalty, service providers such as Verizon, are the second-lowest sector out of 12 for member satisfaction.

READ MORE: Verizon unveils new work from in-house agency

Australian cracks down on alcohol advertising

alcohol marketing

Australia is preparing for “significant” changes to the rules around alcohol ads. The new rules, set to come into force in November, now relate to the actual placement of ads and not just the content.

The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) governs the content of alcohol ads, but previously media placement has been governed by a range of bodies including the OMA Alcohol Guidelines and TV industry code of practice. It will now be making its own judgements.

Other changes mean that advertisers must now use age restrictions if they are available on the platform being used, ads must ensure that 75% of the audience is adult and the ads must not be placed within programmes or content primarily aimed at minors.

“Policy makers and the community are increasingly concerned about where alcohol advertising appears, particularly when it appears in programmes or content aimed at young people,” ABAC chair Alan Ferguson says.

“While it generally occurs due to programming errors or a lack of control over where an ad appears, when an alcohol ad appears during a cartoon, it concerns parents and gives the impression that alcohol marketers are targeting children. It’s important all marketers take care in deciding where their ads will appear.”

READ MORE:New rules on placement of alcohol ads loom large

Marriott teams up with Alibaba to attract Chinese travellers

Marriott International is on a mission to conquer new shores, and one market it is particularly eager to reach is China.

The hotel chain is teaming up with tech giant Alibaba to tap into the growing number of Chinese consumers travelling abroad.

The venture will allow travellers to book rooms at Marriott hotels via Alibaba’s travel service platform Fliggy. They will also be able to pay for their bookings using the Chinese e-commerce company’s online payments platform, Alipay, the companies said.

It seems a smart move – the number of China’s outbound tourists reached an astounding 122 million in 2016.

READ MORE: Marriott plans to woo Chinese tourists in a venture with Alibaba

Unilever takes over Australian ice cream company Weis

International expansion is also on the cards for FMCG giant Unilever, as it buys up Australian ice cream company Weis.

Unilever already owns Streets ice cream, but it has now moved to expand its dominance in the Australian ice cream market. Earlier this week it revealed it has entered into “a definitive agreement” to purchase Weis and promised that manufacturing would continue from the brand’s birthplace Toowoomba.

“We are committed to providing Weis consumers and customers with the same exceptional products with the same high quality natural ingredients and we are pleased to be continuing its manufacturing operation here in Toowoomba,” the company says in a statement.

Weis managing director Julie Weis adds: “Unilever’s scale will enable greater market access and growth that will provide opportunities for our extended Weis family of staff, suppliers, customers and of course our wonderful consumers.”

READ MORE: Queensland icon goes as Weis bought out by Unilever

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