Mcdonald’s Localization Strategy Around the World 

November 15, 2021

McDonald’s is the world-leading fast-food chain with more than 30,000 restaurants in 119 countries. It has successfully expanded its multinational brand identity by maintaining its quality and quickly adapting to locals’ tastes and interests. The highlight of McDonald’s localization strategy has been presented in Asia where it has remarkably enhanced the business while other big food retailers witnessed a failure in adaptation to this continent’s diverse cultures, appetites, and temperaments.   

McDonald’s was born in San Bernardino, California in 1940 with its first restaurant. In terms of revenue, the brand is considered to be the biggest restaurant chain in the world with 37,241 restaurants. While the core menu offering includes traditional dishes such as hamburgers, fries, the brand also serves other items, including milkshakes, soft drinks, desserts, etc. depending on the country they established. 

Like other global food chains, McDonald’s also encounters ups and downs on their route to various countries. Still, the company was able to withstand the drawbacks, paving the way for international success with its food franchises.  

Read more: 5 Steps to Develop a Localization Plan That Experts Won’t Tell You

How McDonald’s adapts to different cultures 

One of the key factors leading to the impressive is the localization as well as innovation that they pursue. McDonald’s localization strategy comes up with a variety of products and services catering to the demands of local consumers which is widely diverse based on several factors such as: 

  • The brand offered a fast and reasonable-price menu to women who are in the labor force and the increasing number of teenagers in the 1960s. 
  • Joined the trend of going global in the 1970s and the 1980s by delivering the “American way of life” to multiple countries and adapting to the social setting through franchising to local entrepreneurs. 
  • Introducing the “fast and convenient” strategy by modifying the list of products based on the current trends. McDonald’s renovated their appearance to achieve a united, up-to-date environment with a friendly and natural dining look and feel. Additional healthy products such as carrot sticks, fruits, salads were presented on the menu for health or fitness enthusiasts. 
  • Continuously updating the drink menu with healthy products such as high-quality coffee to compete with coffee chains.

Mcdonald's Localization Strategy Around the World 

The practices of McDonald’s Localization strategy around the world 


With the population of over 1 billion people, China is an appealing market with more than 2700 outlets. McDonald’s successfully adapted their product list to the local taste by changing the meat from chicken breasts to chicken thighs. In addition, grilled chicken burger is a special meal for Chinese New Year, which is served with curly fries.  


Meat is one of the German’s favorite foods, therefore, its burgers combine Nürnberger sausages with beef. A well-known fact is that Germans are fond of beer, so you can order beer at McDonald’s outlets in Germany.  


The majority of the population in Indonesia is Muslim and they do not consume pork. To make the brand local-friendly, the brand replaced pork with fish and added rice as the Indonesian prefer rice more. 


Japanese cuisine is quite different from the other parts of the world. In the beginning, McDonald’s offered the US menu for the locals. However, they slowly replaced and added items to cater to Japanese preferences. The brand presented the native popular meal include green tea ice cream, rice burger, seaweed shaker, and teriyaki burger.  


In this developed Asian country, McDonald’s also has a typical localization strategy with unique dishes to meet the local palate, such as Salted Egg yolk Burger or Salt & Pepper Crab twist-and-shake Fries. Moreover, they even offer unique gifts to their customers which form a long query of people. 

Takeaways in McDonald’s localization strategy 

Don’t confuse your brand with your products

McDonald’s images adhere with burgers and other typical fast food meals but it does not prevent the company from replacing all meat from some local menus. 

Define which products have global appeal

It is feasible that some of your original products might be desirable in a specific market, as McDonald’s has found some of their products remain consistently favored on a global scale such as fries and shakes. 

View the new market as an opportunity to start new brand attributes

While McDonald’s seems to be an affordable meal in the US, in some developing countries, it’s a symbol of high status for anyone eating there. Hence, if your brand has a negative image in one market, it doesn’t remain the same in other countries. Small markets may contribute more than others: Many companies concentrate on large markets and give less attention to the modest ones. McDonald’s is an international company but around 70% of its revenue comes from restaurants in Australia, Canada, China, the UK, and of course the United States. Focusing on the parts that make up to 30% of the company’s revenue is a wise move. 

As a successful global brand, McDonald’s presents itself worldwide as the brand has implemented comprehensive localization strategies for each market. Not all of them are remarkably successful in adaptation, but based on their number of restaurants and revenue, they already have appropriate adjustments to become more competitive with local brands. 


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