Buying a Franchise

Big Changes in Franchise Marketing

While you can’t always compare the top names in franchising to a smaller franchise you’re considering, staying aware of what the big dogs are doing can help you get a better perspective on franchising. McDonald’s and Subway are both making some game changing plays involving powerful women that should perk up your attention.

McDonald’s marketing has been conservative in recent years. Since the “i’m lovin’ it” campaign that started in 2003, not much has changed in McDonald’s advertising. Ten years of the same campaign may not be a good way to engage customers as their needs and desires change—which is why McDonald’s has decided to bring new leadership into their marketing department. Deborah Walh has been hired as the new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and this is big news for the male-dominated franchising industry. Not only is she one of the few women CMOs of a major franchise company, she’s also an industry outsider, coming to McDonald’s from a lifetime of work in the automotive industry.

Why is this big news? McDonald’s is looking for a completely new direction. Customers have shied away from McDonald’s in recent years, forcing them to become extremely aggressive with their Dollar Menu. Franchisees weren’t happy with the arrangement because many of them lost money on the Dollar Menu items purchased by customers — or at least felt they weren’t making as much money as they should have been. After a long battle, McDonald’s eliminated the Dollar Menu but is now looking to reconnect with customers with new advertising strategies.

On the other end of the marketing spectrum stands health-conscious Subway, looking to reach out to customers who are striving for a healthier lifestyle. The big news comes from a Presidential partnership with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative. The First Lady held a press conference at a local D.C. Subway, accompanied by athletes Michael Phelps, Justin Tuck, Nastia Liukin and Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle. During the announcement about the partnership, Michelle Obama claimed that Subway is the first company to step up towards offering better choices for children’s lunches, highlighting their new initiative to provide healthy lunch options that meet federal school lunch standards and to market healthy lifestyles to children on their level. For marketing to mothers, there’s nothing like approval from the First Lady.

While you can’t expect a smaller franchise to pair up with the First Family for a marketing campaign, looking at potential franchise organizations for internal and external leaders in marketing can give insights into how satisfied you will be with the franchise. If there isn’t a clear leader and direction with marketing, it can be difficult to see results—which is exactly why McDonald’s is restructuring and looking to rebuild relationships with their franchisees.

When comparing franchise brands, look at who plays a role in the marketing of the franchise and where franchisee fit into it. See whether the company is responding to changes in consumer behavior and preferences, or sticking with tried and true even when it’s no longer working. You might discover something very important to your decisions.

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