McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) is probably the most well known name in fast food burgers in the world. They have expanded their markets from the US to locate stores all around the globe. However, their latest decision to open new markets, according to the Huffington Post, has some consumers asking “Where’s the beef?”
The company announced that it will be opening up two vegetarian restaurants in India next year. Yes, you read that correctly, McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD), the king of the fast food burger, will be opening not one, but two vegetarian restaurants. I know, I know, it doesn’t make that much sense to me either. It would seem that if you went from a single roadside burger joint, to a multi billion dollar business by selling beef patties smothered in secret sauce, then changing the recipe now could be financial suicide for your business.
However, McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) seems to have taken all this into account, and has designed these restaurants for a specific group of people. The two new stores will be set up in two major locations, which are important to the Hindu religion. In the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, McDonald’s has opted to locate one of its new stores here, near the Golden Temple. The other location is in a smaller town in Northwestern India, called Katra. This one will be near the Hindu Vaishno Shrine, which is India’s second largest pilgrimage site.
The opening of these two stores will mark a first in McDonald’s history, as they have never opened a completely vegetarian store before. While they have made some changes to their menu to accommodate the customs and religion of India, which holds cows in high esteem, this step will make their chain even more attractive to a nation which has not quite fully accepted them.
Rajesh Maini is a McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) spokesperson in northern India, and he says “There is a big opportunity for vegetarian restaurants, as many Indians are vegetarian.” He goes on to point out, “India is a very small market- we have just 271 restaurants in India, and across the world we have nearly 33,000.” Maini also said that India is one of the top priorities in McDonald’s future marketing campaigns, and they are laying the groundwork for those campaigns now.
Piper Jaffary noted in a recent report that beef prices are up 29% this year, so costs for the vegan restaurants will likely be much lower.
I personally am not sure how I would feel, if I walked into a McDonald’s and ordered a Big Mac, and they handed me three bun pieces with lettuce and mayonnaise on them, but no beef. If the prices are anything similar to ours here in America, I would feel cheated. While the very idea of a vegetarian burger joint, which seems to be an even bigger oxy moron than jumbo shrimp, makes me smile, I must admit, that it is nice to see a company who studies their markets, and learns how to reach customers that they would surely have never reached, without altering their current business model.
On a side note, the Chik-Fil-A Cows have sent their congratulations along with a Thank You card to McDonald’s for supporting their campaign to eat less beef.