McDonald’s sees brand perception boost as customer experience focus pays off

CEO Steve Easterbrook cites modernisation of restaurants and recipe changes, as well as tech innovations, as key reasons behind the improvements to consumer perceptions.

McDonald's

McDonald’s says improvements in consumer perceptions of the brand have helped it post its best sales figures in six years. Sales were up 5.5% year on year in the fourth quarter, marking its 10th consecutive quarter of growth. And full-year sales were up 0.3% – the company’s best performance in six years.

Speaking on an investor call, CEO Steve Easterbrook said customer satisfaction scores were up across the board as it saw improvements in service, taste and quality. He added that six of its top eight markets saw market share growth with the UK “leading the way”, alongside Canada and Japan.

“Brand perception and operational metrics go hand in hand. What we’ve seen around the world is that everything we do communicates from the look and feel of the restaurants to the friendliness of our people and technology innovation,” he explained.

“What we’re seeing is that a broad base investment in our people, restaurants and menu improvements all communicate a business on the move and heading in a direction our customers want us to.”

While Easterbrook did not give specifics on the brand perception improvements, YouGov BrandIndex figures of consumer perceptions in the UK back up his claims. It’s overall index score, which is a measure of a range of metrics including value, quality and reputation, increased by a statistically significant five points to -3.5

Quality increased by 4.3 points to -13.6, while value was up 6.2 points to 12.2. However, when compared with other brands in the fast food market, McDonald’s is still lagging behind. While on value it now sites fourth in a list of 46, overtaking Subway, in terms of quality it is at the bottom of the list and isn’t doing much better in terms of its overall index score.

McDonald’s has focused heavily on modernising its restaurants in recent years and promises that by the end of 2018 half of its estate will be refurbished, a move Easterbrook believes will only increase brand perceptions still further.

“As we continue the pace of modernising we are confident that the lagging and leading metrics will continue to improve,” Easterbrook says.

Easterbrook also discussed consumers’ greater use of mobile apps, with 2 million registered users on the McDonald’s app and the launch of McDonald’s delivery via UberEATS across 7,000 countries in more than 20 countries. McDonald’s is planning to invest in marketing to raise consumer awareness of mobile order and pay in the coming months.

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