Fast food

This paper will give an overview to the perception of how they think about American fast food. This paper will study this question and will intend to answer how the American fast food has influenced the world. Research Title McWorld: Cross-national differences in consumers’ attitude towards American fast food chains Description of the Research Title Research Objectives 1. To identify consumption patterns and demographic data for the target audience. 2. To identify category most perceptive about the American Fast Food. 3. To identify past trends and patterns about the influence of American Fast Food on the world

4. To identify the “usage” American style fast food in the world 5. To identify the “image” of certain type of viewing on the part of the target audience. 6. To explore the degree of awareness existent and degree of awareness Research Questions 1. What are the target audience’s demographics? 2. What type of food has the highest popularity ratings amongst children/teenagers today? 3. What type of food has the highest popularity ratings amongst adults today? 4. What kind of functional and emotional attributes are assigned by people (the target audience) for the food that they eat?

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What controls and in what form are within reach to allow consumption of such food by the parents? Review of literature The proliferation of American fast food chains worldwide is often attributed to globalization. Like globalization, there are two opposing views about the fast food chain’s global explosion. One perspective sees it as a symbol of efficiency, modernity and unity. The fast food industry’s system is now adopted by other sectors due to its effectiveness. Likewise, the cross-cultural success of the industry shows that there are things in this world that could transcend national and cultural borders.

The other perspective views this as the “new form of imperialism” (Watson, 2000, p. 120). Proponents of this belief contend that McDonalds and the other food chains are the expressions of US hegemony. Watson observed that this is even more potent than military power as it does not only aim to control; it was designed to transform people to be like Americans. This review of literature will look at the different attitudes of consumers toward American fast food chains. The countries included in this review are the United States, China, Japan, Egypt and Europe. United States

In the United States, the fast food business is often attacked by health groups, animal rights advocates, labour organizations, sociologists and others. Criticisms about the industry range from the long waiting lines to the unhealthy food, from the environmental impact to the business system. Yet, the food chains continue to thrive. In his book The McDonaldization of Society, Ritzer described this paradox as the “irrationality of rationality” (cited in Keel, 2010). Ritzer explained how the “rational system” irrationally affects the mind of individuals employed by the system and the people who patronize them.

Despite all the alleged negative implications of fast food, Schlosser (2002) reported that every day, approximately 25 percent of the adult population eat in a fast food restaurant. McDonald’s Corporation is the main provider of job, employing “one in every eight workers” in the United States (Schlosser 2002, p. 4). In Fast Food Nation, Schlosser (2002, p. 4) noted that “Fast food has joined Hollywood movies, blue jeans, and pop music as one of America’s most prominent cultural exports. ” It has become the world’s most famous brand.

A survey of schoolchildren revealed that Ronald McDonald is the second most recognizable character, after Santa Claus (Schlosser 2002). According to Schlosser, the fast food industry had become a part of the American life, a habit as common as brushing teeth or following traffic signs. From the books and articles, it is evident that the fast food industry has become both a source of pride and frustration for most Americans. Americans debate about the unhealthy, genetically-modified, flavour-enhanced, calorie-laden food but they keep buying.

They complain about the labour standards and payments (Featherstone 1999) in the fast food industry but more and more people work in them. They loathe the mechanical and controlled system yet other industries are adopting them. They see the McDonaldization process as inhuman, yet it signifies their standard for efficiency and modernity. In short, they hate the fast food chains, but they cannot live without them. China In their study about brand meaning of McDonald’s in China, Eckhardt, and Houston (2002) noted that McDonald’s “has come to symbolize the paradoxes in modern Chinese life” (p.

69). It symbolizes both the traditional and the emerging way of life, the old and the new. The meaning varies with the situation and culture of the people. The authors gave scenarios to determine the participant’s reactions. In the scenario where a birthday party will be conducted at the McDonald’s restaurant, the older generation find idea of birthday party on a fast food restaurant inappropriate choice because it is noisy, “not fancy or expensive enough” for celebrations. Yet, the younger generation views a McDonald’s birthday party, with food, cakes, gifts, and games a real treat.

Another disadvantage is the lack of alcohol. Men do not favour this option but women, who are not allowed to get drunk in public see this as a positive development. In the dating scenario, the men like the idea of going out to McDonalds because they want to be seen in public with a date. Also, the food chain allows them to hangout longer, something that is not allowed in a Chinese restaurant. Women on the other hand find the prospect uncomfortable due to its publicness and noisiness. It represents “foreignness, or non-Chineseness” (Eckhardt, and Houston 2002, p. 75).

They also noted that older people find the food different, inferior and unappetizing (Eckhardt, and Houston 2002) and expensive (Watson 2000). Despite these perceptions, Chinese go to McDonald’s because of what it represents. According to Watson (2000, p. 124), McDonald’s is seen as a “tourist stop” for people from the countryside. To them, eating at the “Golden Arches” signifies that “they did it right” (Watson 2000, p. 124). They bring the boxes and cups home as a proof that they ate at the “Golden Arches. ” Parents take their children to McDonald’s so that they can “connect with world outside China” (Watson 2000, p.

124). It is a window to a different world, something new and foreign. Japan Traphagan and Brown (2002) believe that the fast food concept symbolizes Japan’s culture, promotes relationship and familiarity. In their ethnographic observation of the eating habits of the Japanese they noted how fast food restaurants provide chance for meaningful interactions. Parents take their children to McDonalds where they hang out together as family. They reported a similar pattern observed in China, where the older generation are not familiar and in favour of the food, while the younger generation relish it.

Another difference observed by the researchers is that fast foods are not generally eaten as meals; rather they are perceived as snacks in Japan. Thus, they buy them for enjoyment not for nourishment. To improve their market, McDonald’s Japan serves “rice burgers,” a variation of rice cakes with teriyaki sauce. This changed the perception from snack to meal. One participant of the study remarked that the Japanese palate had adjusted and more and more Japanese especially the young are now eating burgers and pizzas as meals. Another burger chain, the MOS Burger, also altered its menu to suit the local cuisine.

They offered chili sauces the burgers and hot dogs, a twist from the United States outlets. Traphagan and Brown (2002) noted that what makes Japan unique is their ability to embrace foreign innovations and mould them into something that fits their culture and needs. They stated that McDonald’s has lost its “foreign” stature and had become “fully Japanese” in the same way that Chinese ramen became Japanese. Most of the young Japanese today consider fast food meals as full meals. The authors noted that some of them are not aware of McDonald’s American origin.

They see the company as a Japanese company. Egypt In Egypt, American fast food chains, particularly McDonalds are often viewed as symbols of “American corporate might and cultural diffusion” (Gordon 2003, p. 74). This is consistent with Watson’s theory about US imperialism. American fast food outlets are often vandalized as sign of protest against the United States. Egyptians view the food as “exotic” and expensive (p. 81). To enhance the food chain’s appeal, a variation of local products such as the McFal-afel was introduced.

This gives the chain a local touch. Like in the countries discussed earlier, the young generation makes up the majority of consumers in Egypt. Integrating the sandwich in the menu also gave the consumers a choice cheaper choice. Europe According to Denis Hennequin, McDonald’s Europe’s president, Europeans loves hanging around (Capell 2008). They are interested about the experience, the ambience. Hennequin considered this culture of Europeans and transformed McDonald’s to an elegant place people want to linger on.

Some outlets provided wireless Internet connections for people who want to use their laptops. Instead of the usual play areas, they installed gym equipments needed by kids to get fit. McDonald’s Munich added food such as porridge. In Germany, food like Los Scharfos, a fried cheese and jalapeno snack were developed and added to the menu (Capell 2008). All these attempts were made to find the local flavour. According to Capell (2008), Europe is the largest market of McDonald’s, with an estimated 2007 profit of US$8. 9 billion while the US operation only produced US$7.

9 billion. Developing the food chain restaurant into a place with European flare clearly paid off. In describing Europe’s McDonalds outlets, Hennequin noted that the present design made the restaurant more sophisticated and inviting. To sum up, different cultures have different ways of looking at things. What works in one culture may produce different result when applied to another setting. Food chains were built on one global system. They were designed to sell a unified concept. This system encompasses everything from serving fries to uniforms and business arrangements.

However, the experience of McDonald’s shows that the food chain industry’s success depends on its ability to adjust to the cross-cultural differences of consumers. American food chains are not only symbols of globalization, modernity, efficiency and speed; they also signify powerful marketing that transcends cultural and national boundaries. McDonalds and other American fast food chains transformed their menu, culture, symbols and brand to meet the diverse demands of the different countries they go to.


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