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Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Research Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1035

Research Paper

Beginning in 1940, Dick and Mac McDonald opened McDonald’s Bar-B-Q in San Bernardino, California. Almost eight decades later McDonald’s have been able create history through the implementation of drive-thru restaurants, the college credits from Hamburger U, Chicken McNuggets and much more. In 1967 McDonalds first went international, opening restaurants in Canada and Puerto Rico. Now, McDonald’s are serving 117 countries around the world (McDonalds, 2012). Throughout this paper the author will enlighten the audience on the cross-cultural issues within the global organization.

When McDonald’s realized that their business had the opportunity to expand into the foreign markets, they rapidly grew their business overseas without the contemplation of risk. Initially, the global opportunity for McDonald’s was remarkable. With the premeditation of conducting research market analysis, McDonald’s was sure that their decision would be successful. McDonald’s ensured that they were satisfying their customers by incorporating the foreign cultures’ food in their menu. For example, Belgium and Holland were able to purchase pommefrite sauce ensuring that their cultures were catered to their beliefs and liking.

In 1993, the first McDonalds franchise opened in Beijing. It was the largest in the world. The decision that McDonald’s made when they franchised their business in China was a significant one. This movement allowed McDonald’s to take a different approach. This unique company put a twist in how business was going to be conducted and who was going to manage it. In order to decrease cross-cultural issues McDonald’s put into action and displayed their appreciation for the Chinese culture by allowing the locals to manage of their restaurants. This decision was vital because they were conducting business on foreign lands. Now Forbes has called McDonalds one of the most significant influences on how business is done in China. Its persuasive branding it has allowed it to reach peak popularity. The journey was not an easy one however. Other global organizations provide management when they come to foreign lands, but the downfall is that they are not very familiar with the countries traditions, customs, or cultures in China. The cross-cultural differences between the West and East are vast and it is a challenge for every multinational corporation to adapt to these differences (Yan, 1997).

The first challenge was simply planting the concept of fast food in the Chinese market. Food and eating are centerpieces in Chinese culture. They spend a lot of time and energy shopping, preparing and eating their food. When a family goes to eat out it is an event- a social occasion. In the United States fast-food took off because people want to consume food quickly and get on the move. Most McDonalds have minimal decorating and just plain plastic tables and chairs. McDonalds needed to revamp their image to appeal to the Chinese (Inside China, 2012). They had to try to create an atmosphere that was up to the standards of the Chinese people for a restaurant. A researcher found that generally the decision to go to McDonalds was not to get a quick meal for the Chinese public but to experience American culture and spend an average of an hour or more per visit (Yan, 1997). This was part of McDonalds decision not to expand the McDonalds drive-thru in China where fewer people have cars and want to spend time in the restaurant. Going to McDonalds is a significant social event to be shared and savored with family and friends. To cater to this they made decisions, as has been done in a lot of European McDonalds, to improve the atmosphere through decorating, soothing music and more comfortable furniture. The new McCafe has been part of this. They offer an extensive line of coffees and teas with an atmosphere that resembles more of a Starbucks than a McDonalds. Now the identity of McDonalds in China is one of a sophisticated adult experience targeted at middle-class customers (Inside China, 2012).

McDonalds is known for the adaptation of its menu to the local culture and China was no exception. The business practices in China versus in the United States are the diverse key elements. For example, management modified the menus and limited their food choices. Ensuring that the China McDonalds were continually being appealing to its consumers they also added culture based food items on the menu. Beef is less prevalent and popular in China so McDonalds chose to focus on the chicken options on its menu offering a plethora of chicken burgers and wraps. In coastal areas they also included seafood options such as fish filets. Instead of apple pies they use the popular purple Taro to make taro pies. McDonalds made a decision to preserve more of its identity than other American fast food establishments in China. For example, the menu at KFC is nearly unrecognizable. Instead of mashed potatoes they offer rice and fries. McDonalds realized that the majority of its base was middle-class consumers who were attracted to the idea of an American dining experience and this was enough to draw them in. They did not need to make significant changes in the menu because the differences were what the people wanted. Pizza Hut made a similar move in establishing itself as a fine dining establishment. With tables bedecked with candles and cloth tablecloths, Pizza Hut offers a full menu of Italian food including pasta, desserts, pizzas and a full drinks menu (Inside China, 2012).

Perhaps the greatest reason for McDonald’s success in China is simply that over the years McDonald’s has become a universal symbol for America and the Western lifestyle. As China develops and its population gets wealthier, the demand for Western goods will increase. Many middle-class Chinese people hold up the West as the pinnacle of the ideal lifestyle. By eating at McDonalds or Pizza Hut (practically a five-star restaurant in China) they are displaying their wealth, progressive attitude and worldliness.

References

China’s Pizza Hut Experience – Everything but Pizza’ (2012).  Thinking Chinese: Inside China. Retrieved from: http://www.thinkingchinese.com/index.php?page_id=145

McDonald’s China – The McCafe Renovation’ (2012). Thinking Chinese: Inside China. Retrieved from: http://thinkingchinese.com/mcdonalds-china

Mourdoukoutas, P. (2012). Apple and McDonald’s Modernize and Democratize China. Forbes: Markets. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2012/03/11/apple-and-mcdonalds-modernize-and-democratize-china/

Yan, Y. (1997). ‘McDonald’s in Beijing: The Localization of Americana.’ In Watson, J.L. (Ed.) Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

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