Exceeding expectations

Investment into remodelling restaurants and updating menu offerings is reaping rewards as McDonald’s Denmark taps into consumer demands

Having celebrated its 30th birthday last year, over this time the rise of McDonald’s Denmark across the country has mirrored the brand’s overall global position as one of the most widely known restaurant chains. Today 84 stores, including 22 franchises, across Denmark serve 160,000 meals a day to a discerning customer base.

“We are seeing customers move towards more branded businesses, and in the current economic climate where people are more financially stretched, the Danish consumer sees McDonald’s as a really great value proposition,” comments Stephen Shillington, managing director of McDonald’s Denmark.
McDonalds Denmark 2012 2
The company celebrated its milestone birthday by offering prices from 1981 in all of its restaurants. Of course over the following three decades the tastes and wants of this client base has continued to change, and as such McDonald’s Denmark has evolved its offering in turn.

“Today customers are expecting a lot more choice and variety on the menu board. We are very proud in being able to offer this to our consumers, and therefore invest a lot in research and customer focus to try and understand what are the desires of the Danish consumer and how we can meet those expectations. Out of this work in the last 12 months we have launched several new products, including a range ofwraps, two salads and a wholemeal burger bun, which have been received exceptionally well by customers,” describes Stephen.

In fact such thinking has positioned McDonald’s Denmark as one of the healthiest McDonald’s chains in the world in terms of its menu provision. Whilst classic product lines such as the Big Mac remain popular selling more than five million a year, the company has experienced increasing sales of salads, fruit and carrots. More than 654 tonnes of lettuce alone are sold in Demark annually, contributing to McDonald’s’ position as the world’s largest buyer of lettuce. “It’s an evolution for us,” reveals Stephen. “In order to continue to be successful in this market we need to understand today’s consumer and as such will definitely be expanding our menu range even further in the future.

“Outside of the menu other expectations from our customers are that they will be able to eat in a venue that is very up-to-date and contemporary. A unique feature of this market is that in Denmark customers not only believe that the food they eat, but also the place where they are eating it, says a lot about them. Therefore the whole idea of increasing choice on our menu boards and investing in our restaurants is very much in sync with the expectations of the Danish consumer.”

Remodelling programme
At present McDonald’s Denmark is halfway through a two year remodelling programme designed to create a more contemporary style dining experience. So far between 2011 and 2012 around 250 million Danish krone has been invested in re-imaging the internal furnishings and decor, as well as changing the look and feel of the external facets of the restaurants. Customers are already responding to these changes in a very positive manner, which as Stephen highlights fulfils the company’s ambitions for the programme: “We are striving to create a contemporary environment that our customers can come and relax in, regardless of their different needs. This means that we want our restaurants to be welcoming to business customers looking to have a cup of coffee and make use of the free WiFi service, but equally want to ensure families can make use of our restaurants without feeling like they are disturbing other customers by offering children’s play areas. We are aiming towards having different areas within the business that are attractive to different types of customer.”McDonalds Denmark 2012 3

McDonald’s Denmark is not only working to improve its existing restaurants though, but also has an active new venue development programme with intentions to open about three restaurants a year for the next five to six years. Last year the company opened one new site in the Ringsted municipality, fulfilling a long-term ambition, and intends to open a further three restaurants across the country in 2012. “Research has indicted that the expectations of the consumer have changed somewhat so that whilst in the past they would have looked to drive to a restaurant up to 20 or 25 minutes away, now customers are looking for an average journey time of ten to 12 minutes. This means there is a demand for us to open new restaurants in places where McDonald’s has not been present before in order to improve convenience,”
explains Stephen.

Another way in which McDonald’s Denmark is looking to offer more convenience in its market place is through extending the operating hours of many of its restaurants. Approximately 40 to 50 per cent will move towards either a 24/7 model or 24/3 opening, which means 24 hour opening over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and then normal hours for the rest of the week. The traditional McDonald’s Denmark is not only working to improve its existing restaurants though, but also has an active new venue development programme with intentions to open about three restaurants a year for the next five to six years. Last year the company opened one new site in the Ringsted municipality, fulfilling a long-term ambition, and intends to open a further three restaurants across the country in 2012. “Research has indicted that the expectations of the consumer have changed somewhat so that whilst in the past they would have looked to drive to a restaurant up to 20 or 25 minutes away, now customers are looking for an average journey time of ten to 12 minutes. This means there is a demand for us to open new restaurants in places where McDonald’s has not been present before in order to improve convenience,”
explains Stephen.

Another way in which McDonald’s Denmark is looking to offer more convenience in its market place is through extending the operating hours of many of its restaurants. Approximately 40 to 50 per cent will move towards either a 24/7 model or 24/3 opening, which means 24 hour opening over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and then normal hours for the rest of the week. The traditionalassociation with advertising agency DDB, the Coinoffer App offers McDonald’s Denmark a new communication channel with its customers. The response has been phenomenally popular with the app moving into the top five of most downloaded apps in Denmark a mere
15 hours after its launch.

Award
Worldwide McDonald’s is recognised for the training and commitment placed into its employees, and with a current workforce of 4000 staff McDonald’s Denmark was proud to be announced ‘Best Employer of the Year’ at the end of 2011 in the category of companies with over 500 employees. The award comes off the back of a comprehensive satisfaction survey conducted by international organisation ‘Great Place To Work’ which showed that employee job satisfaction was highest at McDonald’s Denmark out of all participating companies. This is not the first time that McDonald’s Denmark has been recognised in the survey having achieved fourth place in 2010 with more than nine out of ten employees indicating they are happy to work at McDonald’s.

“This award means a lot to the business, and internally has had a major impact in terms of the pride all staff hold in McDonald’s. We are very proud of the work we do here, and the investment in staff training and approach to business is an aspect of this. Continuous improvement is something we have always strived for in all parts of the business, and we have long focused on being the best possible employer so to be recognised for that is fantastic. Customers have also reacted incredibly to the news and have indicated how good they feel about a business such as ours where this commitment is rewarded,” enthuses Stephen.

The local approach of McDonald’s Denmark to what is one of the world’s most well known brands certainly appears to have been a formula for success over the last 30 years. Recognising the importance of the customer experience and always looking at ways to improve upon this, means that McDonald’s Denmark is offering a contemporary dining experience that remains relevant and fresh to today’s consumers. “Certainly the economic climate is tough in Denmark and across Europe as a whole, so in that respect we’re evermore focusing on our strategy of listening to the customers’ needs and adapting our business to those. This is something I think we’ve tapped into over the last couple of years and will continue to do as much work around this as we possibly can in the coming years. In order to remain successful for the next 30 years we need to adjust our products and restaurant experience in line with the Danish consumers expectations,” concludes Stephen.