More people than ever are eating meals outside their homes. According to Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation," at least one quarter of American families eat fast food every day as of 2001. Fast food's popularity has largely resulted from companies’ successful marketing strategies. The fast-food companies' marketing focus efforts on what the average consumer wants: convenient, inexpensive food for families on budgets.
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Fast-food companies know that people lead busy lives and thus want convenience in acquiring their daily meals. One marketing strategy centres on planning locations of fast-food restaurants within blocks of each other. Fast food is available virtually everywhere: malls, schools, hospitals and airports. Many restaurants are also open until midnight or later. Drive-throughs make fast food even more convenient for families and working adults on the go.
Catering to Children
Fast-food chains spend a great deal of marketing to get children's attention. Many fast-food restaurants cater to children with expansions of kids' menus, which include everything from chicken nuggets to macaroni and cheese. Kids' meals usually include a toy that promotes a current children's movie or popular television show. Most kids meals also include a drink, making them a deal for parents. Some restaurants have colourful indoor playgrounds that children love. Many fast-food chains have websites where children can play games, or offer games that children can download to their cell phone.
Advertising is an essential marketing strategy for fast-food restaurants. Commercials with juicy burgers and golden french fries entice growling stomachs, and strategically placed billboards tempt hungry drivers on the highway. Some fast-food chains send coupons via mass mail. Companies also use radio commercials to advertise promotions to lure more customers.
Low Cost/More Product
Fast-food meals are growing in size and costs are becoming lower, satisfying customers. Burgers can have three patties instead of two, and consumers can pay a few extra cents for a 177ml. soda. Families can get a fried-chicken meal complete with dessert and sweet tea for four, all at a minimal cost. Many pizza restaurants offer specials for two-for-one pizzas.
A popular marketing strategy of fast-food chains is the creation of a mascot. This fictional spokesperson, made to attract children, is colourfully costumed and jovial. A company's mascot appears at promotional events and in television commercials, as well as on the products' packaging.
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