McDonald’s isn’t particularly well known for coffee, but their recent McCafe ad campaign still poked plenty of fun at overpriced, hipster coffee shops. Matt Lee, creative director of the Leo Burnett campaign, said “We’re reminding people that if you’re simply after a great tasting cup of coffee, without the fuss, then McDonald’s is the place for you.”
Fresh takeaway coffee has been a high street staple in the UK for over a decade, with increasingly complex menu items and sometimes eye-watering prices. For some, both independent and chain coffee shops shoot for ‘artisan’ but feel fussy and unnecessary. By highlighting McDonald’s as “the antithesis to the complication”, they appealed directly to people who just want a simple, decent cup of coffee?
Taking on ‘posh coffee’
It’s predicted the number of UK coffee shops will “increase by almost 50% by 2022”. The three biggest brands are Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero, which dominate half the market. The remaining 50% is made up of independent cafes.
To compete with them, McDonald’s installed “upgraded coffee machines in stores”, rebranded their packaging by dropping the classic red and yellow, and introduced a rewards programme. This isn’t just a UK-based campaign either, McDonald’s launched a “standalone McCafe” in Sydney in 2014 to demonstrate their coffee is just as good as their competitors’.
Learning from your competitors
Knowing the public’s attitude to coffee has changed and become more discerning, McDonald’s decided to join the coffee chains, rather than beat them. They didn’t imitate them, however, they positioned themselves as a more affordable, simpler alternative.
Your competitors aren’t necessarily your enemies – there’s a lot to be learned from them.
Their target audience won’t be identical to your target audience, and by observing how they market themselves, you can respond to the gaps they’ve left and find your own niche.
Which customer needs are they meeting? Are there any pain points they aren’t addressing? Having this knowledge helps you to position your brand and meet your customers halfway.
If a competitor is setting a high bar in terms of product, it’s your job to top them. Analysing their approach and service is the only way to know what your customers can get elsewhere.
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