Thursday, March 4, 2010
McLobsters and Test Marketing
When you're a giant company like McDonald's, with locations all over the globe, you can perform test marketing in your own stores. Take the McLobster for instance. I'm sure it began during an idea generation, what Kotler defines as "the systematic search for new-product ideas." They must have said, "Hey, what is missing in our Canadian/New England market?" Or maybe they just really liked the idea of going into the lobster sandwich business and asked themselves, "Who would eat this?" Or maybe it wasn't an internal idea source, maybe it was external, coming from a consumer or supplier. Either way, the McLobster passed the idea screening stage "which helps spot good ideas and drop poor ones as soon as possible."
Next, came the product concept, "a detailed version of the idea stated in meaningful consumer terms." This would go something like, "The McLobster: real Atlantic lobster spread over the length of a bun and smothered in creamy, white McLobster sauce...mmm, I'm lovin' it!" Then they turned it into a product image, where it became more than just a description, and was either drawn out, or a physical representation of the McLobster was created.
Eventually, after the marketing strategy development stage where McDonald's described their target market, the planned value proposition, and the sales, market share, and profit goals. Finally, they would have performed a business analysis on the McLobster, reviewing sales, costs, and profit projections to see if they fit with the objectives of the company.
Then would have came the fun parts, such as product development, where they would actually create the McLobster. Perhaps sea food specialists would be consulted. McDonald's wouldn't then just commercialize the product to every McDonald's that serves to their target market, they would first have to do test marketing, by introducing the product and marketing program into real market conditions. Here, they would offer the McLobster at certain locations within their target market.
Test marketing is easy for a company like McDonald's, that can experiment with their products within their own restaurants, simply by doing small, local promotions and offering it on their menu with a big "NEW" next to it. The McLobster must not have been profitable enough to mass commercialize, but to my understanding it has been re-introduced over the years as a seasonal product. We can only hope that eventually it will catch on in Canada and New England enough to where they might offer it around the Seattle area, which is known for consumers who love their seafood!