Why McDonald's are just lovin' marketing's 7 Ps

UCL’s Ben Harris earned a Distinction on his essay on this IPA Foundation Certificate question.

We are spotlighting some of the best essays from our MIPA qualifying courses and qualifications. Here, UCL's Ben Harris earned a Distinction on this IPA Foundation Certificate question, looking at how McDonald's apply the 7 Ps of marketing.

The 7 Ps are vital in developing the marketing approach for any business. Each item is essential and should never be considered in isolation. To demonstrate, here is an exploration of the use and application of the 7 Ps by McDonald's.


The item or service that the business sells to consumers

  • In the case of McDonald's, this is the range of products, e.g. hamburgers, milkshakes, fries, which they sell to the customer.
  • It is crucial not to consider individual products in isolation. McDonald's products fit into a clearly defined range.
    • Saver - For example, Hamburgers and cheeseburgers and the lower end of the market (a cheap entry point for consumers, inexpensive snack).
    • Core – BigMac, McChicken Sandwich and other regular items. This core range sits a middle price point, often part of a meal.
    • Limited – High end, gourmet or promotional offering (higher price point, slightly more expensive, scarcity value, often only short term options).
  • Product USPs – McDonald's burgers are 100% beef.


The retail cost of the product

  • Price needs to be taking into consideration. As McDonald's offers a range of price points, saver menu thorough to gourmet options, they can cater to different segments of the market.
  • It is important to consider where the price sits in relation to competitors. McDonald's are one of the cheapest retailers in the crowded burger market, they exist outside of the higher end offering of (e.g. Byron or GBK) and provide easy entry to the market with a range of pricing options.
  • The use of price in promotion, money off coupons often distributed near a store.


How products and services are advertised to consumers

  • McDonald's focuses on both extensive brand-building exercises through TV campaigns (designed to grow salience, emotional connection and mental recall) and more direct, actionable campaigns, OOH advertising near stores, adverts on bus stops, storefront promotion. Actively target consumer when they are in 'the market' for fast food.
  • Use of place and promotion, for example, partnering with cultural events such as the Olympics, FIFA World Cup.
  • Toys in happy meals create emotional connection to the brand that can be carried into adulthood. For example, parents often bring their children to McDonald's, the purchasing of a happy meal is a shared experience that is then passed on to younger generations.


The physical space where consumers purchase the product

  • McDonald's stores are widely placed across geographical regions so that the consumer can easily access them. McDonald's has recently partnered with UBER to deliver to homes throughout the UK, further expanding the space where products can be purchased.
  • Promotion at sporting and cultural events.


The process in which the product reaches the consumer

  • McDonald's is a master of procedure at every stage and extremely efficient with production in-store. They have recently innovated the way customers purchase in-store. Providing terminals where customers order and then wait in-line for the product, this drives efficiency - significantly reducing wait time and the number of staff required to complete orders. Some stores offer table service, which in turn improves customer experience and mitigate time lost spent queueing.

Physical evidence

Premises, industry awards, visual identity are all physical signals of the brand

  • The McDonald's brand is physical evidence, iconic M that can be recognized around the world and used to trigger emotional responses to the brand.
  • McDonald's uses awards to reinforce ideas of product quality, for example, "100% British beef" and food service awards.
  • The toy in the happy meal, physical evidence that connects to the brand.


The staff who are delivering the service product - can also include external partners

  • McDonald's staff are trained to adhere to brand values.
  • Uniforms provide physical evidence of the brand.
  • Use of celebrities in promotional campaigns.

The 7 Ps is a useful tool to explore the McDonald's marketing mix. It is essential to consider each of the elements when deciding how to promote products and services.

Ben Harris is a Masters Student at UCL. This essay earned a Distinction as part of the 2018 IPA Foundation Certificate.

Bookings for the 2020 IPA Foundation Certificate are now open


Last updated 01 May 2024