The new advertising campaign from McDonalds for the McCafé range caught our attention recently – it’s a direct attack on the hipster, millennial, independent coffee shops that aim to provide an authentic and artisanal coffee experience. The advert demonises these independent spaces as being over-the-top, overpriced, and overrated – interesting when you consider that McDonalds’ actual rival on the high street coffee market are brands such as Starbucks, Costa, and Caffe Nero.
McDonalds has excelled at redefining itself in the past few years as an ‘honest’ company, all British, all natural, and straightforward prices that aren’t going to rip off their customers. But this message still jars with many people’s perception of the McDonalds’ stores – and for those who are looking for an ‘honest’ cup of coffee, why would they go to a fast food chain that smells of grease, is full of screaming children and always seems to be in the middle of a clean-up?
We think there is a niche in the crowded coffee market in the UK for a down to earth, relaxed space that offers a friendlier and cheaper coffee experience than those currently available. McDonalds already have the brand with McCafé – but they should now make the McCafé a brand a destination in its own right. They have trialled this previously in other markets but the restaurant’s aesthetic and menu in these countries feel more upmarket and akin to a Starbucks.
There is a huge desire in the UK for a coffee chain and café space that offers a more functional and affordable option. For McCafé this could look a little like Greggs’ dine-in facilities, functional and unfussy, offering the kind of ‘honest’ food McDonalds promotes. The space could be simple and clean, without the kind of dark, oppressive interior that places such as Costa and Starbucks provide. And of course, the coffee would just be coffee.