Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Best Way to Introduce a New Hamburger in Japan

Source: Media Transparent

A new black and red storefront opens up in Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s trendiest neighborhoods, with no description beyond the words “Quarter Pounder” in front. Inside the menu offers only two items: the Quarter Pounder and the Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

In Japan, the “Quarter Pounder” doesn’t exist (portions in Japan are much smaller than in “SuperSizeMe” US). My Tokyo-born wife, who has lived here in the US over 16 years did not know that the Quarter Pounder was a McDonald’s brand name.

So, to Japanese, this mysterious store didn’t seem to be associated with McDonalds, the largest American fast food chain in Japan. Instead, Tokyo’s hyper - cell phone culture buzzed up this unusual store with only two menu items. It’s pretty easy for Japanese youth to target a shop enmasse when they are all texting each other looking for a place to meet and eat.

The revelation didn’t seem to disappoint the consumer (as it potentially might in the US as a devious marketing trick), because McDonalds Japan then announced they would be closing the experimental shop some time before the end of the year. Now the trendsetter Japanese mentality kicks in, and lines still continue to form so the in-crowd can say: “Sure, I ate there…” while it was there (it’s the same reason why a Japanese tourist visits a different country every trip abroad).


1. What a great way to introduce new products in Japan! Now, McDonalds can add the “Quarter Pounder” to the Japanese menu to great fanfare instead of explaining the heftier product to the Japanese (food quantity is not necessarily a selling point in Japan).
2. What a great way to leverage the cell phone culture. One wonders whether the “mystery shop” strategy would work in other cities around the world.
3. McDonalds Japan eventually got great mass media exposure from its initial buzz via a form of social media.
4. McDonalds Japan’s stunt paid for itself. Lease a storefront, cook up burgers they way they usually do, get lots of paying customers, forego the television ad buys.

1 comment:

elo said...

Dr. Tantillo's published a recent post on McDonald's on his marketing blog, in which he praises McDonald's for being so flexible and adapting to demand but prefaced this with: "The big things about McDonald’s cosmetic image (i.e., colors, designs, clown mascot) have never essentially changed. Neither has the basic serving and restaurant setup."
Guess they are even more flexible though... Tantillo's full post

Even though this is supposed to just be temporary/buzz marketing, I wonder if cultivating this sort of aesthetic wouldn't make sense for them--a move to diversify their holdings (they own a significant portion of Chipotle, or did last I knew) and expand/diversify their customer base (Ex. their 'unsnobby coffee' campaign. Tantillo did a post on Starbucks/Dunkin' Donuts mentioning McDonald's coffee, too.