Buyer Behavior about McDonald
First of all, this assignment that our group will be doing is related to the behavioral learning theories. The question of this assignment requires us to choose an organization and discuss how the organization will influence the consumer behavior based on classical and operant conditioning and also the reinforcement schedules that will be used by the organization.
The organization that we have chosen to be used in our assignment is the world’s famous fast food restaurant, McDonald’s. On the following section, we will talk on the company background of McDonald’s.
- Company Background of McDonald’s Corporation
The business began in 1940, with a restaurant opened by siblings Dick and Mac McDonald in San Bernardino, California. Their introduction of the “Speedee Service System” in 1948 established the principles of the modern fast-food restaurant. The present corporation dates it founding to the opening of a franchised restaurant by Ray Kroc in 1955, the 9th McDonald’s restaurant overall. Kroc later purchased the McDonald brothers’ equity in the company and led its worldwide expansion and the company became listed on the public stock market in 1965 ().
Today, McDonald’s is the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with more than 30,000 local restaurants serving 52 million people in more than 100 countries each day. The nine major markets are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom and United States. It holds a leading share in the globally branded quick service restaurant segment of the informal eating-out market in virtually every country in which we do business ().
McDonald’s primarily sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken products, French fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes and desserts.
- Behavioral Learning Theories
Behavioral learning theories are sometimes referred to as stimulus-response theories because they are based on the premise that observable responses to specific external stimuli signal that learning has taken place.
Behavioral theories are not so much concerned with the process of learning as they are with the inputs and outcomes of learning. That is, in the stimuli that consumer select from the environment and the observable behaviors that result.
Two behavioral theories with great relevance to the marketing are classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
- Classical Conditioning
Classical conditioning is a type of learning discovered by Ivan Pavlov in which a neutral stimulus comes to bring about a response after it is paired with a stimulus that naturally brings about that response.
The principles of the classical conditioning process
- The unconditioned stimulus is one that unconditionally, naturally, and automatically triggers a response.
- The unconditioned response is the unlearned response that occurs naturally in response to the unconditioned stimulus.
- The conditioned stimulus is previously the neutral stimulus, and after becoming associated with the unconditioned stimulus, eventually comes to trigger a conditioned response.
- The conditioned response is the learned response to the previously neutral stimulus.
This is how to process works. First, an unconditioned stimulus is paired with a neutral stimulus. The unconditioned stimulus is the one that is eliciting the unconditioned response. After a while, where this pairing is repeated many times, classical conditioning occurs. Now, the previous unconditioned stimulus is now the conditioned stimulus and can cause a conditioned response by itself. The unconditioned response and the conditioned response are essentially the same thing ().
The Pavlov’s Experiment
(i) Before Conditioning
(ii) During Conditioning
(iii) After Conditioning
Marketers usually use this learning theory when they associate their product with a stimulus which elicits a favourable response with their target market. They hope for a positive attitude towards the product, increasing the chance of purchase by consumers.
For the organization we chosen, McDonald’s, the process of classical conditioning is as follow:
McDonald’s and the Classical Conditioning
2.1.1 The Concepts of Classical Conditioning
So how do classical conditioning works on McDonald’s? We will discuss on two of the concepts of classical conditioning, the repetition and the stimulus generalization.
Repetition is where something is played or showed repeatedly for several times. The purpose of showing or playing the particular object repeatedly is to create awareness among consumers and enforce the brand image. When consumers know the existence of the products or services, they will seek for information and may give it a try.
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Therefore, McDonald’s uses repetition in advertising for their products and services available in order to influence consumer behavior and attract consumers to purchase their products. Repetition is able to strengthen the association between a conditioned stimulus (restaurant) and an unconditioned stimulus (food).
Repetition of an advertisement is able to convince consumers, making them more familiar and easier to remember about your products or services.
The common examples of advertising methods that McDonald’s uses to promote their products and services are such as the flyers, TV, online advertising, billboards, bus advertising, radio and newspaper advertising.
Distributing flyers is a very common and cheap method of advertising. It is widely used by many marketers. McDonald’s uses flyer to advertise a lot of its products. One of the examples is the McDonald’s breakfast set. The purpose is to attract students and office workers who need to travel to school or to workplace early in the morning. They can easily have their breakfast at McDonald’s because the breakfast will be available from morning 4am. The flyer shown on the left is where McDonald’s had a promotion, giving out a free Sausage McMuffin for those who visit McDonald’s between 7.45 to 8.45 am. The purpose of McDonald’s doing this is to attract customers to their restaurant for the free breakfast repeatedly during promotional period, and after the promotion has ended, there are high possibilities that those customers will go back to McDonald’s again to purchase their McD breakfast.
(ii) TV Advertisement
TV advertising is also one of the most commonly used advertising methods. McDonald’s uses this advertising method to inform consumers and promote its new products and services too. During festival seasons, McDonald’s do promote their prosperity meal which is only available during the Chinese New Year. Recently, McDonald’s do advertise about their 24hours delivery service in TV to inform consumers that their delivery service is now operating 24/7. The time period that McDonald’s chooses to advertise is during night time dinner hour. During that period, family will be at home watching TV and enjoying their dinner. Therefore, this is a more suitable time period, rather than in the morning, to advertise about their products or services so that households are able to see the advertisement. Apart from that, advertise during dinner hour may also make those who are watching the advertisement feel tempted to purchase McD food as dinner.
(iii) Online Advertising
Online advertising is where marketers use the internet to advertise. Normally when we surf the internet, or when we visit any websites, we will see a lot of banners such as fast food advertisements, technology products, consumer products, and all kinds of promotions and offers. The picture above shown that McDonald’s also advertises through the internet, informing the internet users that McDelivery is available 24 hours. For those who like to stay up late at night, when they saw this online advertisement repeatedly, they might feel hungry and end up giving McD a call to make their orders, because it is convenient for them as they do not need to drive out to buy food.
Billboards advertisements can be seen almost everywhere. It is a common method of advertising that marketers use to promote their products and services. The sizes of billboards are extremely large and they are eye-catching. McDonald’s is also one of the companies that uses billboard as their advertising strategy. As mentioned earlier that billboard advertising is attention-grabbing, it enables the kids in the car to look at the billboard everytime when they pass by. When the advertisement is seen repeatedly, it makes them remember about McDonald’s more easily and will be tempted to have their meal in McDonald’s.
(v) Bus Advertising
Busses and vehicles are all on the road therefore it is good to use the bus advertising method. McDonald’s uses this method to advertise their products and services too. Advertisements can be in the bus interiors, bus backs or bus sides. Busses travel on their route daily, therefore, the exposure of the McDonald’s advertisement to passerby is very high. Besides, transits also cost lesser than television, radio, newspaper and billboards. With frequent exposure of McDonald’s products to the consumers, consumer will be tempted to visit McDonald’s.
Sponsorship is the material support of an event, activity or organization by an unrelated partner. A company can reinforce awareness among its target market by sponsoring an event or organization that attracts a similar target market. The benefits include promoting a positive image, brand differentiation, increase customer loyalty and targeting potential new customers.
Two examples of sponsorships that McDonald’s took part are the Community Football Partner and Olympic 2008.
Community Football Partner
Both of the sponsorships above are mainly targeting on the kids. McDonald’s launches its newest Olympic Games program, called McDonald’s Champion Kids in Beijing. This program enables 300 kids to travel to the 2008 Olympic Games, giving the children chances to see the Games, meet the athletes, visit cultural sights and interact with others.
- Stimulus Generalization
Pavlov also noticed that conditioned responses tend to generalize to other related events. When a new stimulus produces a response similar to the one produced by the conditioned stimulus, it is called stimulus generalization ().
Stimulus generalization includes for a learned association between a given stimulus and response, a very similar stimulus may elicit the same response. For an example, if a tone of a particular pitch was established as a signal for food, other similar-sounding tones will also produce drooling even though they had never actually been presented ().
The success of extension of the product line depends on a number of factors. For an example, if the image of the parent brand is one of quality, consumers are more likely to bring positive associations to the new category extensions.
As for McDonald’s, they have always come out with new products, such as the burgers and desserts, while maintaining the quality – which is the deliciousness of the food – as well as the price range.
Several latest products introduced by McDonald’s are the Double Spicy Chicken McDeluxe, the Ayam Goreng McD Spicy, Spicy Chicken Wrap and the Onion Rings.
McDonald’s had come out with really plenty of food choices for their customers. They are such as the Mc Value Meal, Mc Saver, Happy Meal, the Tea Time Combo Sets and varieties of desserts too.
Most importantly, McDonald’s is able to introduce not only a wide range of food choices, but also maintaining the quality of the food, as in the ingredients used and the taste.
“We at McDonald's Malaysia believe in giving nothing but the best to our customers. All our high quality food is prepared using only the best raw ingredients from selected and approved suppliers.” ()
- Operant Conditioning
Operant conditioning attempts to create an association between a response and some outcome that serves to reinforce the response. Wikipedia states that, Operant conditioning is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior. It is distinguished from classical conditioning in that operant conditioning deals with the modification of "voluntary behavior" or operant behavior. The behavior "operates" on the environment and is maintained by its consequences. And behaviors conditioned via a classical conditioning procedure are not maintained by consequences ().
- Positive reinforcement – This will increase the likelihood of the behavior occurring again
- Negative reinforcement – Involves the removal of a bad consequence when the respond is formed.
If the reinforcement from using the product is positive, means the customer liked the product and their attitude will probably move from neutral to positive. However, if the reinforcement is negative, then the likelihood of returning to the product will be small.
- Positive Reinforcement
McDonald’s must offer their customers positive reinforcement so that they will come back again and it can be done by giving the customers something free every time when they purchase from us. An example is the VIG sticker, it is used for drive-thru customers only. When a customer drive-through with the sticker, the customer will be rewarded with an item of the month if they spent RM15 and above in a single receipt (it can be a burger or other things that are edible).
On the following, we will discuss on some of the strategies that McDonald’s has, which will lead to positive reinforcement in their customers. They are such as the services available, the environment, the facilities, promotions and loyalty schemes.
Drive-thru has generally replaced drive-ins and they are now found in the vast majority of Mcdonald’s Restaurant.
Drive-thru is convenient, especially for those who are lazy to park their car at the car park. They can easily purchase their meal by driving through the drive-thru counter. Apart from that, adults who need to get their breakfast early in the morning before work can also enjoy the drive-thru service to purchase their breakfast conveniently.
The steps of buying Mcdonald’s meals through Drive-Thru are simple and easy. With the high efficiency of the staff, customers can enjoy the delicious Mcdonald’s meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper, in just a short period of time. Therefore, the introduction of drive-thru service will give customers positive reinforcement and it is truly an effective way to maintain and attract more customers to visit them.
“All day, all night. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper or in-between meals treat you crave, McDelivery 24hours is with you around the clock”
As we all know, it is quite hard to get food from outside during late midnight. However, with 24 hours McDelivery, one can easily make a phone call to order the food that he wants to have as supper and then wait for the delivery man to reach at his door step. That is really simple and convenient.
The guidelines of a McDonald’s restaurant are all about fulfillment of 3 aspects which is Clean, Comfortable and Modern. It is a destination that customers seek out for dining because it serves the food that customers want in a contemporary and welcoming environment. This provides them with positive reinforcement.
Most Mcdonald’s restaurants have high standard of cleanliness, and this is one of the factors that will greatly influence a person’s choice of where to eat. Having a clean restaurant does not require capital investment, so why not make it clean to attract customers?
Besides, ensuring that restaurant’s staffs are friendly and able to work fast with hospitality training is important too. Because this is able to give customers a feeling of being value, comfortable, happy and so they will continue to support Mcdonald’s.
Environmental Friendly Packaging
As the society all over the world begin to have awareness and response to the issues of global warming, McDonald’s also play their role in protecting the environment to prevent any negative impact to the environment, and they operate base on the “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”.
It includes begin and publicized environmentally positive steps such as using lighter weight paper, paper bags, recycled paper and cardboard packaging in the operations. Besides, McDonald’s uses packaging board from post-industrial recycled paper for the packaging of the hamburgers, fruit pie, French fries, chicken McNuggets and some other products.
Society and customers will continue to support the use of recycle materials by McDonald’s due to global warming issue, while still supporting the safe and delicious food that is provided by McDonald’s.
Some McDonald’s outlets feature indoor or outdoor playgrounds, called “McDonald’s Playland”. As for Malaysia, they are mostly in the indoor. The play land is designed for children to develop physical coordination skills and promote physical fitness through fun play. Besides, parents can monitor their children while dining at the dining area which is near to the play land.
Wireless Internet Access
McDonald also provides wireless internet access in most of the franchising restaurants, enabling customers to surf the internet conveniently in the restaurants. We can see students forming study group in McDonald’s as they are able to access to the internet. Sometimes, working adults also had their appointments in McDonald’s too.
Live broadcast football matches
The uniquely "Mac Tonight" experience is McDonald's way of celebrating the excitement of the UEFA European Football Championship with the community by encouraging customers to cheer on their favourite teams and have a great time in the McDonald's restaurants.
While in the restaurant, soccer fans enjoy fast and friendly service as they watch more than 30 live matches on McDonald's large flat screen TVs. With McDonalds showing Euro 2008 matches live every night , the Euro atmosphere and the football fever are spread among the football fanatic by bringing the action closer to them only in Mcdonald.
(iv) Loyalty Schemes
McD do attracts customer to come back again after their first visit, by offering the customers some loyalty schemes such as Kids Club membership card and also provide drivers the VIG “Very Important Guest” car sticker.
VIG car sticker that provided by McD to the customer is a privilege where customer can enjoy a free gift once they drive-thru McD and spent more than RM15 in a single receipt. While the Kids Club membership card is to attract the kids to get free ice-cream or fries when there is a purchase of more that RM5 in a single receipt. Those mentioned above are the positive reinforcements introduced by McD to attract the customers for the continuous visits and support, no matter the adults or kids.
To be the first choice of the consumers, McD always do various promotions on their products. One of the examples for the promotion is the Sundae Con, which is sold at only RM0.50 on every 1st of the month (normal price RM1.00).
Besides, there will also be special price promotion for certain items during a period of time. For example, a burger will be able to get at only RM3 when it is on promotion. During the non-peak hours McD also introduced the Tea Time Combo from 3pm – 6pm, at RM3 per set, to attract the customers to visit and purchase the promotional sets.
In Malaysia, more people will always prefer to have the coffee which is cheaply obtain at the coffee shop, in this case McD have also promote their breakfast set meal price to the lowest to attract the consumer to come along.
Sometimes, we are able to receive McD promotional flyers or discount vouchers from newspaper, for us to cut it and present to the counter while purchasing the promotional item. Sometimes, there are also notices shown in flyers to inform consumers about the new items or free gifts available.
The frequent promotional strategies that McD had offered can actually attract consumers, and made them be aware of any McD latest updates.
Classical conditioning is important for any organization because it is a process used by marketers in their marketing strategy. It enables the organization to attract new customers and at the same time, retaining the old customers. Classical conditioning works when a neutral stimulus is paired consistently with a stimulus and the process is being repeated. As this is able to elicit or evoke a response in the consumers.
For the case of McDonald’s, classical conditioning is relevant and it is a must as it will determine the future success of the business. When the advertisements are being shown repeatedly, consumers are able to remember or recall the brand name more easily compared to those with low exposure. Advertisements of McDonald’s can be seen in a lot of places, such as the TV, newspaper, flyers, billboards, posters, transits, the internet as well as can be heard from the radio.
With frequent exposure of McD advertisement such as the new products, promotions or new services through advertisements, it helps to retain the old customers because now they have more new choices of food to be consumed as well as new services to be enjoyed. As for the new customers, McD advertisements are able to grab their attention and therefore they will be interested to have a try on McD’s products and services.
Operant conditioning is mainly related to the positive and negative reinforcements. When a customer is positively reinforced, the likelihood of the behavior being repeated is higher. But when they are negatively reinforced, then the likelihood of a repeated behavior is decreased. Positive and negative reinforcement of the customers will greatly affect the organization.
It is important that creating positive reinforcement in customers of McDonald’s, as this will help on their reputation, sales and their future success. Besides, providing positive reinforcement will help McDonald’s to gain a big bunch of supportive customers who will repeatedly coming back to McDonald’s. The positive reinforcement that McDonald’s gave to their customers is high; it can be from their food, services, environment, facilities and all kind of promotion and loyalty schemes.
As a conclusion, classical conditioning and operant conditioning is able to influence the purchasing behavior of the consumers and both conditioning are related to each another for the case of McDonald’s. When classical conditioning is correctly and effectively used, it is able to attract new customers while retaining the old ones. Once operant conditioning takes place, it is able to generate positive reinforcement in McD’s customers. By this, both new and old customers will be satisfy and are able to enjoy the benefits provided by McDonald’s happily, and of course they will visit McDonald’s for the second time, third time and so on.
Classical Conditioning, n.d., viewed on 13th of July 2008
Conditioning, n.d., viewed on 13th of July 2008
McDonald’s, n.d., viewed on 12th of July 2008
Mcdonald’s Corporation, n.d., viewed on 12th of July 2008
Operant Conditioning, n.d., viewed on 12th of July 2008
Stimulus Generalization, n.d., viewed on 12th of July 2008