Written by Seamus Byrne, CNN
McDonald’s is reinventing itself as a brand for the age of consumerism.
“In the next 10 years, we want to be known for quality, convenience and value,” said Ian Friendly, who replaced Steve Easterbrook as CEO in March.
In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Laura Ingraham, Friendsy spoke about why he’s putting a premium on quality, why he feels the McDonald’s brand is necessary in our “postmodern economy,” and what it means to be “modern, progressive and inclusive” as the company is going forward.
Here are edited excerpts from the interview:
Does the customer have to be starved to the point of insanity to leave McDonald’s?
We want to make sure that our customers are happy and successful. Sometimes they go because they have a location that’s an awkward three minutes’ walk in, or they’ve been there before. But sometimes you go because you’ve got a child coming to a playdate, or you’ve got a meeting at the office. We know people to treat them well at McDonald’s. When they leave, they expect that they’ll come back and try something else, or they’ll make an exchange with someone else as well.
What you’re facing now is a migration to much more tech-based purchasing — companies like Amazon and Uber. Does that mean McDonald’s can’t compete?
I can’t say anything about the future but I can tell you we live in a world where the world is changing, fast. And people have these digital devices: smart phones, freezers, computers. People who get home from work, they want to be surrounded by things that make them happy. They want to be happy, so that’s the challenge. We want to be as important and as popular as our name is known for. We want to provide a place that our customers are always going to choose to visit.
Having a store that you can follow wherever you are, where your food always arrives the way you want it, and it’s delivered for free — people are going to be focusing on that.
Why does it have to be delivered?
I think that’s absolutely right. People are using their phones as their primary way of going out, and delivery is a good way of extending your brand reach, being able to deliver that. And we are no different — we’re an omnichannel business now, which means that we’re delivering — as part of our service — to mobile apps, online ordering on the homepage, which you can customize what you want, and that’s why I say our website is very Darwinian. There are all of these customization options there. Every site we launch now, we’re absolutely adding to.
What does it mean to be “modern, progressive and inclusive” as the company is going forward?
To me, the words fit. I was about to say “21st century,” and (Laura) interrupted me. I like modern, progressive and inclusive — that’s me. I’m more of a 20th century guy, I tell you.
People expect businesses to be inclusive and I think it’s absolutely appropriate as the business is going forward, I think it’s good for the brand to do that. You know, when we started this business in 1955, we didn’t have any outreach to the LGBT community, and we thought we were great for life, that’s a great slogan — “Be great for life.”
Over the years, it’s actually meant that we’re always thinking beyond that, thinking about people, people’s lives. In the future, whether we do something or not, we’re going to have to consider that. What are the options for people? They might like Lyft, Uber. This is something that could have more value, because it’s a connection. They’re having an experience with us at the end of the day, and that experience might be at the end of a ride.