January 10th, 2018
McDonald’s Promotion in Honk Kong and Singapore and Their differences
McDonald’s promotion during the Lunar New Year aimed to capture such importance placed on the animal signs. In Honk Kong, McDonald’s offered 12 Doraemon toys corresponding to the 12 animal signs (Ling, n.d). Customers who purchased a McDonald’s Happy Meal were given the opportunity to buy a Doraemon zodiac toy. Since all toys representing all animal signs were present in Honk Kong, the promotion was successful and no section of the Chinese population felt left out of the promotion (Ling, n.d).
In Singapore, however, aiming to limit potential antagonism from the Muslim population (approximately 14.9 %), which does not consume pork, McDonald’s replaced the pig toy with a cupid toy to correspond with the Valentine day celebrations (Ling, n.d). Such an action received criticism mainly from the Chinese population, who are the majority in Singapore, with some opting to purchase the Toys from Hon Kong where the full set was offered (Ling, n.d). The promotion strategy in Singapore thus failed leading to a belated apology from McDonald’s (Ling, n.d).
Response to the Promotion Strategy in Singapore
McDonald’s approach to promotion in Singapore received strong criticism leading to its failure. For instance online discussions suggested that McDonald’s had no respect for Chinese culture with News media terming the strategy a blunder (Ling, n.d; Loh, 2010; Wong-Anan, 2010). Other commentaries viewed McDonald’s strategy – replacing the pig out of concern for the Muslim customers – to be selective sensitivity to multicultural nature in Singapore. For instance, as noted by Ling in the case study, some comments noted that McDonald’s had not shown such sensitivity to the Sikh culture by continued offering of halal meat, despite the Sikh not being allowed to partake in such a meal. Similar commentaries arose with respect to Hindus since they do not eat beef (Ling, n.d). Other concerns expressed were reasons why McDonald’s could not have offered the Cupid as an alternative rather than a substitute for the Pig to allow the customers to choose their preference (Ling, n.d).
Following such concerns, McDonald’s apologized via its website and reintroduced the pig toy albeit belatedly (Ling, n.d.; Loh, 2010; AsiaoneNews, 2010). For instance, by the time customers had the option to purchase the pig toy in Singapore, the Lunar New year celebrations, a period when the respective animals are celebrated, had already by-passed (Ling, n.d). Such response to McDonald’s failure to observe cultural aspects of subcultures indicated that cultural dynamics affect business outcomes significantly.
Cultural aspects affect marketing activities for instance by determining the effectiveness of promotion activities. Such an effect was for instance demonstrated by McDonald’s failure to observe Chinese culture by replacing the pig in Singapore in its promotion activities that aimed to tap from the Chinese 12 astrological signs. Although the action was meant to avoid antagonizing the Muslim population in Singapore, it was perceived as an attempt to alter the predominant Chinese culture thus leading to its failure. Eventually, the entity had to reintroduce the pig toy although it had already lost some of its customers. Such an experience reinforces the need for firms to make a cultural assessment before introducing changes that could alienate their customers.
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