I recently read an article from the October issue of Fast Company which talks about the global redesign of the McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain.  I think we are all familiar with the ubiquitous brick and mortar cookie-cutter locations, filled with bright reds, oranges and yellows, and of course the frightening clown mascot.  Along with the many recent menu innovations, such as the “Premium” items, including McCafé drinks, upscale salads and wraps, the chain is looking to upgrade the overall eating environment.  In Europe and Australia, some of these design updates have already taken hold over the past several years — but in 2010, there will be a lot of changes here in the US. 

“Next year, McDonald’s will launch its first total makeover campaign since the Carter administration, allocating $2.4 billion to redo at least 400 domestic outposts, refurbish 1,600 restaurants abroad, and build another 1,000.”

Clearly, the folks at the top think that the brand is getting stale, and I agree.  When a consumer sees your average McDonald’s, they primarily think: fast and cheap, with a dash of lingering distrust due to sources such as Fast Food Nation.  The chain is clearly trying to go in a new direction, while capitalizing on key successes seen in Europe. 

“European customers spend about three times more per visit than their U.S. counterparts, on what’s basically the American menu.”

Part of this bump is having a more dynamic eating space, and also the novelty of the new.  It will be interesting to see how anti-change Americans adapt to this movement, especially in the long-term.  It certainly won’t change my mind on the overall quality of the food, which is why I have not ordered there in about 15 years.  But as an observer, I am anxious to see how this social experiment plays out.  One thing McD’s certainly has in its favor is the money to move forward or go back.  

How do you think this design update will change the McDonald’s experience? Would you be more likely to spend a little more money if your local chain was set up with hardwood floors and tables that weren’t bolted to the floor?  What are the chances that this will be a success?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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58 Responses

  1. Raiders757

    A McDonald’s opened up near me a couple of years ago that I believe falls under this new model. It looks completely different, yet there is no don’t what it is. There are flat screen TV’s and free wi-fi with an environment that doesn’t scream hurry up, eat, and get out. Still, it doesn’t make me want to hang out for any extra period of time and talk my self into buying anything else.

  2. Cynthia

    I don’t know about others, but I don’t go to McDonald’s for the decor. I go for the exact reasons that keep them in business: like you said: fast and cheap. And when my children were younger, there wasn’t a better place on the planet.

  3. Missourimule

    McDonald’s new redesign “redefines” the meaning of the word “ugly”. Every restaurant is cold, hard, and unwelcoming – the basic message is, come in, get your food, and get out, quick. Their only basic achievement is that they’ve managed to make state Drivers’ License exam offices look warm and welcoming.

  4. Carla

    I don’t get it. With the economy in such turmoil, why would McDonalds go and spend so much money to remodel their restaurants? The “golden arches” are what we all identify McDonalds with. The yellow and red decor means that you can spot a McDonalds from way off. Why don’t they invest that money in something more important like. . . . a better selection of healthier choices.

  5. Reggie Beaco

    Mac keeps reinventing itself, you can’t but help in liking the company; now if they would just start doing a hamburger & egg sandwitch 24/7, that would get me in there more offen-yes

  6. Meliea

    I agree the redesign is totally ugly. So much so that I wouldn’t want to even go in and eat inside much less have them raise prices to pass their reno expenses on to the consumer. If it “ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

  7. cookie123

    my kids only like going to mcdonalds because they love the food and the theme of it. If they change the colors and theme my kids won’t have as much fun. It would ruin the experience.

  8. Richard

    When will McDonalds ever realize, like the rest of us do: “Hey, stupid, it’s the awful food.” I will eat at McDonalds if it’s in a obscure place like Elko, NV if I can’t find another restaurant!
    That’s it, McDonalds!

  9. Nancy Burian

    I don’t mind the outside changes, but what I would like is a hamburger that doesn’t taste like cardboard. How about spending some money on that?

  10. Regina

    The one and only reason we go to mcdonalds is so that my kids can eat a treat and play- but honestly we see less and less playgrounds. Which is really a pain and if I wanted to simply sit down and eat with kids in a high chair at a “fancier table” Id as soon go to applebees, chillis fatz anywhere that is going to serve slightly more quality food- the tickets for us at mcdonalds was the exeperiance and atmosphere for the kids…why change this?

  11. Rickyboy

    New face…same crappy food good enough to eat once a year!…though the new restaurants look really good!

  12. Deb

    How will we find McD’s from the highway if its red roof is gone? Rather than spending unneccessary dollars on remodeling, just keep your prices low!!! I can see the prices rising to pay for the remodel! Not a good idea.

  13. Kathy Preddy

    A few years back, General Motors came up with a new slogan for Oldsmobile–“This is not your Father’s Oldsmobile”–and a few years later, Oldsmobile was gone. Turns out that the “fathers” of the world who bought Oldsmobile LIKED the Oldsmobile look. I think McDonalds is making the same mistake. The people who go to Starbucks aren’t the people who like McDonalds and the people who go to McDonalds won’t like the Starbucks decor in McDonalds–it will drive away their main customer base.

  14. Lyn

    NO Drive Thru…that TOTALLY spoils the convenience of FAST FOOD…take out the fast on the fly stuff and you might as well go somewhere else? Golden Arches are McDonald’s don ‘t take it away……..

  15. melinda

    That would be so cool! Seriously, do you think kids really care that much?…No.

  16. trobaz

    Cool…Kitchie…Modern…. Im lov’n it…. McDonalds has a grasp on the future while others will fall to the side…

    Well Done McSly

  17. Arjay

    They’re just falling in line with the rest of the world…cable companies now selling phone service, phone companies now selling cable service etc..

  18. Ralph Barlow

    Forget the decor – redesign the FOOD so it’s healthful and nutritious! Cut the salt, fat, and preservatives WAY DOWN. Then they’d really have something to crow about!

  19. Jennifer Quiles

    I like it. It looks nice and the last time i passed by the new mcdonalds they remodeled in my neighborhood I actually bipassed the drive thru and sat inside which i havent done in years, it looks good and the bright red and yellow can use a face lift i mean it not 1993 anymore. The new colors definetly say 2011, I really love it.

  20. clwoods

    In Boca Raton Fla, the new design with wi-fi seating and the Station settings have been a great look the past 6 years. Its great!

  21. Jim

    I agree with “why mess with a good thing”. I don’t go to a McDonalds for a “restaurant experience”, and if that’s what they’re shooting for, then they’re going to have to drastically change their menu-probably a mistake. I miss the days, when I was a teen when $1.25 bought you a hamburger, a small fry, an apple pie and a small coke. Certainly these makeovers are going to drive up prices. I’ve already stopped frequenting Arbys due to their high cost, is McDonalds next?

  22. penny

    I do not like the changes, it just wont be McDonalds anymore. My kids love the child like settings and you are turning this into a more grown up theme, odds are you will lose alot of business…

  23. Mommytodan

    I think the redesign effort is nice but that is not what makes McDonald’s. It is the golden arches and the red and yellow decor. My kids love going there for that reason. If they change it I think it will make it much more unlikely they will want to go. I could drive right by and they would know it. Not a good move.

  24. Anon

    I don’t care what McDonalds does. I stopped eatting that crap food many years ago and I’m glad I did. IMO people shouldn’t be eatting their food, especially children. If you kids would care what McDonalds looks like that much then there’s something wrong! McDonalds is the reason why we have so many over weight, unhealthy kids and people in this country. I hope they go out of business, people are better off without them!

    Go vegan, it’s a much healthier way of living then eatting animals!

  25. Jay H.

    Like everything else as time goes by, yes, things have to change. But Like the other’s here, I do agree, the food needs to get back to the standards of the past, and I am afraid, with all the remodling, the prices will go up to cover the cost. And for the kids, to me the new remodels sure do not look “kid” friendly. Remember, kids, families, that is what McDonld’s was focusing on. I am sure Mr. Kroc might have a few better ideas if he was still around!!

  26. Donna

    People are more interested, these days, in anything retro, because it brings them back to a happier era…the idea of using new, sleek designs came, no doubt, from the newbie architects, and not the people who many years ago hit upon an idea that made them as successful as they are…let’s face it, most of us go to Mc Donald’s to a.) save money (and not have to pay more for an old menu in order to pay for new renovations, b.) kids love it as it is and make us go there, and finally, c.) when we’re on our way home, or we look like crap, or we don’t want to take kids inside for a long, tedious meal, WE WANT THOSE DRIVE IN WINDOWS!!!!! Stick with the winning formula, and stop trying to be a chic cafe! I agree…put the money into the food quality…

  27. Lori

    I only go to McDonalds at the drive thru and only for an egg biscuit or a frozen coffee. nothing else appeals to me there, and the new decor, is not great for this place, those small chairs look very uncomfortable and who wants to sit at McDonalds and chat with friends. I used to take my kids for cheap meals and the playground. I have not been to a McDonalds in three months.

  28. avon mamma

    McDonalds has been phasing out the kid-friendly theme for some time now, by slowly eliminating the play places. The newer, healthier food is good, but they realize that times are changing. They can no longer keep up in a slow economy. I dont think a re-design is such a bad idea.But I DO think if they get rid of their fast drive -thrus and the cheap items on the menu, they will totally alienate their main customer base…so they’d better upscale it so as to attract people who can afford to spend more.

    They have totally lost the kid-friendly theme…but maybe that is the intention.

    They could definitely use more healthy alternatives…just keep those prices low and things could work out.

  29. Janet

    I agree with one of the earlier comments that they should put their efforts into offering healthier choices alongside the items that have made them so successful. I tried to e-mail them to ask about offering veggie burgers but they have no system set up to accept comments. They should have a way to get feedback from their customers! I also think it will be harder to spot them from a a distance, putting them at a disadvantage.

  30. GloryB

    Less Kid-Friendly? GREAT!!! Maybe now I might actually enjoy eating there.

  31. Christine

    I don’t agree with their decision. McDonalds should invest in what the consumers want. If McDonalds wants to beat their competitors then they have to look at what the other chains have changed. Wendys has added a healthy alternative to healthy eating. They added more salads and wraps to their menu. Bringing back some of their old menu items would be a start. I miss the McDLT and the chef salads or the shaker salads. Make their signature sandwich like the Big Mac….a smaller version. They should try giving the kids meals choices like a salad and make it fun for them….like the shaker salad. Maybe every month do a limited time offer menu item. Maybe a international item. Something that another county has in their menu. For example…Canada has a lobster sandwich…Japan has a shrimp burger. Call their limited time offers Celebrating people from around the world. This county is a big melting pot of people from around the whole. It would be nice for people to feel like the have a piece of home just for second.

  32. Emily

    What is unfortunate is that McDonald’s provides food for a lot of people who can not afford the more expensive, healthier option. By hacking up the prices and creating a more “sophisticated” atmosphere, I feel like they’ll be taking away from so many people who just need to get food into their stomachs and who won’t feel welcome with the new decor. I definitely agree that they should be spending their money to make a healthier menu so that everyone has the opportunity to eat a nutritious meal.

  33. JP

    Mcjunk food as i call it and taste it yuk. it’s only good if your on emty and nothing else around right? but then you have to suffer in the toilet from the pains in you belly from the cardboard box food. and you really do not even want to know where the meat comes from lol. try in & out there is no clowning around there.

  34. ameeerica

    NO Drive Thru…that TOTALLY spoils the convenience of FAST FOOD…take out the fast on the fly stuff and you might as well go somewhere else? Golden Arches are McDonald’s don ‘t take it away……..

    god forbid you have to get off your fat a## to get your double quater pounder

  35. 3D Drawing Pad

    I wonder how long this new design will last? the next 50 years? I also heard McDonalds is going for an organic look. With a $1billon budget for remodeling, it could be cool!

  36. Carol

    I don’t eat at McDonald’s anymore, due to decreasing food quality. However, since I travel alot, it’s a great bathroom stop….in and out.

    I do hope that the changes entail cleaning up the bathrooms. 50% of them are filthy. If the bathrooms are dirty, I imagine that the kitchen isn’t so clean either. No excuse for it.

  37. aspeck01

    Just to let you all know… the McDonald’s I work at got remodeled about five years ago. Our prices didn’t go up, instead the workers didn’t get raises that year. The store I work at is franchise owned, not corporate, and the money came from our owners pocket, not the corporate company. He wanted to spend the extra money to make his store look nicer. Also McDonald’s prices go up with the rising gas prices because our food gets to our stores by semi- truck, and semi-trucks run on gas. The more gas costs, the more it costs to get a truck to deliver our stock. That’s all it is. Cost of living goes up, so does McDonald’s prices.

  38. dmcrusher

    and getting rid of the drive thru?….I would like to personally welcome these geniuses to join myself and the rest of the 11.7% on the unemployment line

  39. Letitia

    hmmmm. maybe since McDs is no longer “kid friendly” looking, kids (and parents) will develop new habits with food. I know I spent a lot of time at McD when my kids were young. It will be interesting to see what happens in reaction to the redesign.

  40. Boyd Chappell

    Remember Coca Cola’s marketing faux pas in 1985? I’m wagering to bet this is the next major marketing McStake. The interiors and exteriors do nothing to grab or wow. I can’t believe the designers haven’t come up with any better designs with better color combinations. It appeals to no one of yesteryear, or kids of today. For a company who is going to spend a billion dollars on make overs, I definitely would come up with something more pleasing to the eye.

  41. Ray

    Spending a BILLION DOLLARS to fix something that isn’t broken….HELLO …BIG RED ROOF, plastic child proof seats,play areas…thats what the parents of small children go there for…..thats McDonalds largest revenue is small children….SO GO AHEAD McDonalds mess it up!!!!!

  42. puckhd27

    You people should call the 1-800 number to voice your opinion, its on every soda cup, I’m sure McDonalds would like to hear if you like the new Jetson style interiors.

  43. lisa

    Hey, let McDonalds make the changes they want to. Let them focus on color and booths and tv, wifi etc… Don’t worry about re designing the food because once they change the whole the people will stop going there, they will start closing down and people will eat at home more. eat healthier etc. In california a few years back the grocery stores went on strike, people panicked thinking they would have no food. Now Costco, Trader Joes and Whole foods get more business then ever before so let McDonalds go by the wayside I don’t eat there anyway, nostalgic or not their food kills people slowly… Go home make something real. Have healthy kids. Keep weight down. Keep diabetes away etc… Think about it people…

  44. Jeff H in TX

    Decor does not matter as much as the toxic pink slime that goes into their chicken nuggets, the hormone mess that they call beef and the salt encrusted tombstones that pass for french fried potatoes.

    Repackaging soylent orange, bold move.
    Most folks will buy into it.
    Not me.

  45. Steven K

    Every ones who is complaining about the food quality and that it’s not healthy enough.GO EAT SOMEWHERE ELSE! Eco freak losers

  46. FunnyMunny

    Hey McDonald’s, have you read a newspaper in the last 20 years? Fried food, white bread, ice cream and soda have been found to be unhealthy! Who knew? How about spending some more money on better food? Would it kill you to switch to whole wheat buns or real cheddar cheese or skin-on fries? Sheesh, upgrading their food takes all the brainpower of a 2 year old (or me, evidently).


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