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  • Writer's pictureToucan Insights Staff

Competitor Analysis Through the Eyes of McDonald’s


Understanding your competition and their business strategies is critical to success.

It's essential to understand the products and services they provide, how they market their business, the structure of their distribution and delivery system, how they incorporate new technology, and how customers perceive their brand.

This analysis will tell you how you can outdo your competitors in these areas, resulting in a competitive edge over others in your sector.

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Analysis Mcdonald competitor

1. What is a Competitor Analysis?

Competitor analysis is the process that defines who your competition is and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

This includes analyzing other companies that offer similar products or that fulfill the same needs in different ways.

Competitor analysis focuses on gathering relevant information about the product portfolio and marketing strategies, as well as the competitors themselves.

With this information, you will gain insights into the marketing strategies of the most successful brands in your market.

This will allow you to start the process of developing an enhanced product or service, and if you are successful, you will be able to establish a competitive advantage in your market.

Benchmarking can help you see the direction in which your industry is going and understand how your competitors are serving their consumers.

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2. What are the Main Benefits of doing a Competitive Analysis?

When doing marketing research, one of the first things you need to do is analyze your competitive landscape.

This will determine which marketing activities you should prioritize. A big part of competitor analysis focuses on determining how unique your product is compared to the already existing products in the market.

Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses will make it easier for you to fill in the market gaps.

Your goal should be to establish a unique value proposition in order to differentiate your business from the rest.

Looking at the top performers in your industry will allow you to identify certain practices and strategies that are commonly used to improve your business.

By doing benchmarking, you will be able to identify how you can stay relevant and apply the best practices in your industry.

Similarly, seek areas of opportunity in the marketplace and be the first one to try out new strategies or address the spotted need in a better way.

3. Going Beyond Direct Competition: Coca-Cola vs Pepsi Cola example

Conducting a competitor analysis is more than just identifying your biggest competitor and creating a great branding strategy. Imagine being a marketer at Coca-Cola and focusing all your energy on becoming better than Pepsi.

Even though comparing your business with your biggest rival is a crucial part of analyzing your position in the market, you shouldn’t neglect the rest of the companies.

Competitor analysis is about identifying where your company is positioned in your industry and what needs and customers it serves.

Therefore, the more information you have about all the different businesses that have an overlapping target audience with yours, the better.

4. Seeing the BIG picture: The McDonald's Case

mc donalds competence

The following paragraphs analyze the McDonald's case. This brand has disrupted its market by properly identifying and addressing the needs of its target consumers.

a. McDonald's: Creating a Brand based on CONVENIENCE

With the birth of fast-food chains, people developed the need to obtain their food in a more timely-efficient manner than with traditional restaurants.

More specifically, the booming success of brands like McDonald's can be attributed to the rising desire to have affordable food with fast service at available and multiple locations.

The vision of Ray Kroc, who was the brain behind the development of McDonald's into a nationwide and later worldwide phenomenon, was to have an efficient way to serve tasty food that was available in every McDonald's around the globe.

5. How does McDonald's do to Stay Ahead of its Competition?

McDonald's has become not only a world-famous fast-food chain but also a massive real estate company.

McDonald’s total real estate value is $30 billion, according to an official statement from the company.

In comparison, its biggest competitor, KFC, counted 24,000 locations worldwide in 2020. Here you can see that there is a clear difference between the two fast-food chains.

The goal of McDonald's is to place their branches in as many high-traffic areas as possible aiming to expand their overall market reach capturing the best spots in the cities.

This includes ordering and receiving their order in no time while providing quality standard meals.

Another factor that McDonald's wants to take advantage of is allowing its restaurants to deliver their burgers to people’s doorsteps.

This service plays a huge role when going to the restaurant is not possible (especially with COVID-19).

McDonald's drive-thru service is also a big part of making the whole customer experience as convenient as possible.

The company's future plans include incorporating the McDonald's app for their drive-thru services to reserve spots in a dedicated lane to make it even more efficient.

The following paragraphs will explain the different competitor types that McDonald's has and how the company competes in each category.

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6. Who are McDonalds' Competitors?

Mcdonalds competitors

a. McDonald's vs Burger King & KFC

Competitors with similar products and target audiences (Burger King & KFC)

After the huge success that Ray Kroc had with McDonald's, countless other brands have followed in McDonald's footsteps.

The biggest rivals of McDonald's in this category are KFC and Burger King, with annual revenues of $2.49 billion (2019) and $1.78 billion (2019), respectively.

Like McDonald's, they offer food for relatively affordable prices with fast service and a consistent menu everywhere you go.

Therefore, these 3 brands are competing in the same market category.

McDonald's is constantly updating its menu to keep its less-loyal customers coming back to them.

On one hand, they haven't removed any popular items from the menu to keep their most loyal customers emotionally connected.

On the other hand, McDonald's regularly announces new meals for a limited amount of time to attract new customers and create awareness.

Furthermore, they have tried out new ways to engage with their customers with actions like organizing massive giveaway prizes multiple times a year to attract the types of customers who enjoy playing games.

b. McDonald's vs Starbucks & Dunkin Donuts

Competitors with different products but similar target audiences

The next category to analyze is food and beverage companies that sell a different range of products but fulfill the same needs as McDonald's.

Brands like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts can be considered indirect competitors of McDonald's but direct competitors of Mc Café in the coffeehouses category.

In the case of Starbucks, they cater to an audience characterized by preferring comfort and experience, and that is willing to pay a premium price for it.

Dunkin Donuts is famous for its donuts but targets consumers who are more interested in obtaining a good product-price relationship without the need to pay a premium price for being in a fancy store.

Even though the main business of McDonald's is selling meals at any time of the day, it has also tapped into the markets of Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts with a specific chain.

McCafé is part of McDonald's and it is sometimes a standalone business selling mostly hot drinks and sweet snacks.

McCafé caters to the needs of its direct competitors by providing comfortable locations and an affordable menu.

c. McDonald's vs Local Restaurants

Competitors with different products and target audience

Traditional restaurants cater to a different target audience but address the same needs as fast-food chains, which is why they are competitors of McDonald's.

Even though McDonald’s attracts a different audience when compared to your local pizzeria or your favorite local restaurant, they are still competing for a slice of your income.

These restaurants are focused on delivering a personal experience to their customers.

They prepare and serve more elaborate dishes that are based on the chef's expertise and skills.

The aim lies solely in delivering high-quality food and personal service that customers cannot easily substitute.

As such these restaurants are catering to specific target customers that value their quality above all.

7. McDonald's vs Adapting to New Needs and Audiences

Catering towards future needs

The fast-food chain is also functioning as a modern business that is focused on optimizing its marketing strategy.

Classic restaurants, unlike fast-food chains, rarely change their menu. Successful brands want to search constantly for fresh ways to keep their customers interested.

This is what sets them apart. McDonald’s and their fast-food competitors are trying to stay one step ahead of each other.

In this case, the company that best caters to the needs of its customers wins the race.

One example of how McDonald’s adapted to future trends was when they introduced the touchscreens to choose the menu from or when they implemented a vegetarian option to attract the vegetarian segment.


The previous paragraphs show how McDonald’s puts convenience at the center of its strategy, which can be seen in every example mentioned above.

The fast food chain focuses its offline marketing strategy on opening as many McDonald’s restaurants in relevant locations as possible.

Even though the company's business strategy started focusing on offering standardized meals at a low cost and served in a short period, it has evolved into a global real estate firm that franchises its brand, operations, suppliers, and know-how to smaller administrators to continue its global expansion.


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