Happy Meal Marketing Magic

I’m not a huge fan of the quality of McDonald’s food but sometimes the golden arches have a tractor beam that pulls me in with a force that is very difficult to resist. Part of why I think I think I still like McDonald’s is because of my memories as a child. Back then I wouldn’t have ever stepped foot into a Burger King, Jack in the Box, or Wendy’s if it had been up to me. I now prefer burgers from Fudruckers or Five Guys but noticed about a year ago Tyler started recognizing company brands wherever we went. I’m obviously loyal to Safeway and shop there frequently so Tyler learned to recognize Safeway and its trucks on the roads quickly. I have always loved Starbucks since I was introduced to coffee in college and Tyler knows that brand because I frequent their establishment and his mom and I have exchanged custody in their parking lot quite a bit.

What is interesting to me now raising a child is what companies are, and are not doing with regard to marketing to children.  I have taken particular interest in McDonald’s marketing strategy because they are masters of catering to youth and thus older demographics. I’m a big fan of ice cream so on a nice hot day a McDonald’s shake is awesome.  Not to mention the Shamrock Shakes around St. Patrick’s Day, but I digress.  How is your company’s marketing to younger demographics?  McDonald’s is a master of marketing to children, their happy meals and “Play Places” are brilliant.  Whether you are a retailer, technology company, church, or politician you can’t forget about youth if you want to compete and stay relevant long term.

  • A few ways you can market to children
    • Children’s menus
    • Seating area for children
    • Play area for children
    • Carts for children to push around your store, or ride in
    • Those gumball machines at the “choke points” in every store, the entrance/exit
    • Free cookies or goodies.  Give away a cookie but mom and dad have to go into the department to get it which usually leads to them looking for other goodies for themselves which aren’t free.  It is the drug dealer tactic, I’ll give you this one for free and I know you will want more
    • Internships
    • Commercials
    • DVDs that come with toys which has taught Tyler all about “Imaginex”
    • Candy and toys in the checkstands
    • Don’t forget about your employees either.  Daycare at your facility while mom or dad are working is one of the best ways to retain talent.  Lunch with the kid(s) increases work/life balance, even if it is just for an hour.

What are some other strategies you’ve seen?  Any other ideas or thoughts?