Founder Ray Krok used the phrase "grinding it out" to describe the Golden Arches company's ethos and, in recent years, elements of the company's business have indeed been a grind. McDonald's has had plenty of challenges in recent years as a more diet-conscious public has forced it to come up with new menus and protestors have questioned its ethics but it still serves about 58 million customers a day. Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets and similar lines remain strong sellers, a huge advertising campaign might have helped change perceptions about its brand and the consensus is that McDonald's has weathered the storm.
Company performance was notably robust in 2009 with second-quarter figures up year on year and perhaps reflecting the sentiment that the company might be playing in a sector that suits economic tough times.
CEO Jim Skinner commented:
"As consumers find themselves more cash-strapped and time-challenged, they continue to count on McDonald's for value, convenience and variety across our menu. The ongoing appeal of McDonald's is a testament to the dedication of our owner/operators, suppliers and employees who provide an exceptional restaurant experience for each customer, every time."
At the same time as salads have become more regular features of trays at the fast food giant's outlets, the firm has used technology to maximise its appeal. A major change project dubbed Innovate set about revamping the company way back in 2001 and the taste for innovation continues. After pioneering chip-and-PIN card support in 2007 through a deal with NCR, and Wi-Fi enabling outlets to provide free internet access for customers in 2008, the group continued the rollout of EPOS systems in 2009.
McDonald's has also been quick to move into social networking and is also using digital interactive signage to attract customers.
New ways of paying are also on the menu with remote displays helping to accelerate drive-through transactions and the possibility of this being followed up by broader support for contactless payment cards after a trial that began in London. As a huge brand, the company is also doing its bit on internet security and in February 2009 posted a warning about potential phishing and other attacks purporting to come from McDonald's.