Canadian Millennials dislike McDonalds? NO KIDDING

USA today recently shared an article “McDondald’s is pushing to get more Millennial savvy.”

No kidding, this afternoon I was targeted with a promoted Twitter post by McDonalds Canada @McD_Canada. The TwitPic showed a little advertisement for the McWrap, their new product targeted at Millennials. #SavourTheFlavour #Deal #Save #Value.

McDonalds Screen Capture

For someone who will spend $3-$5 without hesitation to buy fair trade coffee with organic soy milk on my way to work, this ad may be targeting the wrong appeal. #yuppie #hipster #fivedollarfairtradeorganiccoffee #nvm

McDonalds – it’s not price; I know it’s cheap.

For me the perception barrier in going to McDonalds is too great; it’s their reputation for poor labour standards and animal rights in addition to a general concern for the company’s contribution to North America’s declining health related to poor nutrition. It’s all just something I don’t want to be a part of and 50% off will not make me buy your product.

At first I thought this ad clearly shows that McDonalds does not understand my attitude, or has not addressed these perceptions. But really, they are just targeting the wrong person in their effort to be social media savvy; this ad wouldn’t fail with all people in my generation.

A recent Advertising Age article, “McDonalds has a Millennial Problem” talks about 2013 data which showed that one of the world’s largest restaurant chains, McDonalds falls outside of my demographics’ top ten favourites.

The Ad Age update shows that hamburger chains have seen a 16% decline in traffic from Millennials since 2007. And in November 2012, Millennials made 3.6 billion visits to hamburger chains, down from 4.2 billion visits in 2007. There was a 12% decline in quick-service restaurant visits by Millennials in the same time period.

Millennials, or the “echo boom” make up about 9 million people in Canada. The Millennials have started to grow up, leave our parents houses and have started to have families of our own, meanwhile our parents grow older. In the next couple decades, Millennials will start to take on more responsibilities both at home and at work, and will soon be making decisions for a much larger group of Canadians.

What does this mean for McDonalds and other fast food restaurant chains? Well I’m not surprised that they have started to change their game when it comes to reaching Millennials. While I think it’s a good step that they have moved to online and social media marketing I don’t know they’ve quite hit their target market.

For me and other people that fall into my segment, the main obstacle isn’t price or competition; it’s our perception altogether of McDonalds and the fast food industry in general.

I think McDonalds can succeed with Millennials, but I don’t think they’ll do so by appealing to the entire generation. Our research divides the Millennial population by segment. We see great differences when it comes to lifestyle, expectations, and consumer behaviour among the different segments. For example the Simple Lifers segment tend to want to live in a large home in the suburbs, whereas the Sparks want to stay in the city and don’t mind living in a smaller home or renting.

What is important in this example is that all three of these aspects matter, lifestyle, expectations and consumer behaviour are all tied together for Millennials. These young people are very conscious of their image. In the world of 24/7 microblogging, both behaviour and purchasing decisions, at even the smallest level, like lunch or morning coffee play into the Millennials’ image.

It is up to food chains like McDonalds to be the right fit with the right target group. While they may consistently fail with one target because it doesn’t fit into the lifestyle of the urban sparks, this means that they can focus their brand appeal to other groups like the Stampeders, an all-male segment, or the Pacers, tech-savvy basement dwellers.

In fitting their offerings with specific segment lifestyle and consumer expectations McDonalds will find success even among Millennials.

For more info about the Abacus Data Canadian Millennial YSegments, check out our website

Jaime is an Analyst at Abacus Data and a thought leader for its Canadian Millennials research practice.

Contact Jaime Morrison:

T: 613-232-2806



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