Graduate Paper

A graduate paper should have properly organized structure and thematic focus. Our graduate custom papers are based on in-depth research and critical analysis of academic texts. Below is an example of such a paper.

Topic: International Business Strategy

Introduction

International business strategy encompasses efforts by business organizations to come up with practical procedures, tactics, methodologies, and philosophies for facilitating commercial relations with entities operating from different countries. In most cases, the tactics employed are greatly influenced by the culture of the entities involved (Cronk, Hill, & Wickramasekera, 2011). This paper discusses the role that culture plays in the strategic internationalization within the fast food industry. Real examples are derived from three fast food companies: McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King.

In order to draw a relationship between international business strategy and culture, this paper explores three aspects of culture and their contribution to the global expansion of business in the contemporary context. The three aspects of culture examined include Communication and language, religion, and tradition. Through the examples derived from McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King, culture is viewed as critical factor in the process of strategic internationalization of the fast food industry.

Communication and language

            Communication and language are critical aspects of culture that influence the process of internationalizing the fast food industry. Marketing specialists of various fast food companies must ensure that their messages are properly communicated to the target audience (Ghosal, 2007). It is imperative to use the language of the consumer in order to ensure that the intended message is properly communicated. This drastically reduces the possibility of the message being misinterpreted.

According to Levit (2003), the world continues to be flooded with a long list of products that have become success stories simply because they have managed to transcend cultural barriers. Levit (2003) adds that the reason why many such products are being transformed into household names the world over is because of the continued “homogenization” of consumers. In other words, consumers are increasingly become alike in terms of spending habits and preferences. For marketers, the implication is that it is possible to look at a certain culture and determine quite accurately which product awareness message will be perceived positively.

Fast food companies must avoid the mistaken notion of adapting a single product to multiple markets. The needs of each market tend to be different and this is largely attributed to cultural differences. Today, the work of tailoring products to the needs of specific customers is not as difficult as it used to be in the past. This is because of the advent of modern technology. Using technology, it is possible to gather all the relevant information regarding people of a specific culture. Technology has made people to succeed in maintaining regular communication and interaction on a global scale. Through such interaction, one is able to gather a lot of information on the cultural preferences of people of different cultures. Moreover, one gets information on how to come up with messages that emphasize on these preferences.

There are many examples from fast food companies on how proper choice of communication and language can lead to an increase in sales. One example is that of Burger King, which has achieved immense success in China simply by using the mandarin language for its website as well as menu. This enables local consumers identify their favorite dishes easily hence making the decision-making process faster (Van & Steinweg, 2008).

Burger King Holdings is a multinational company that has established fast food restaurants in many countries in North America, Asia, Latin America, and Australia (Risner, 2011). This demonstrates the environment of cultural heterogeneity in which Burger King operates. The consumers of these different regions speak different languages. Moreover, they have varying culinary preferences and expectations. They would expect these aspects of culture to be captured first and foremost through communication and language.

Burger King has its headquarters in Netherlands. Its operations are based on the Western culture. However, it has ventured into many countries that do not belong to the Western culture such as China, South East Asia, and Japan. In these countries, one of the emerging problems is obesity among children (Van & Steinweg, 2008). Even as consumers continue enjoying the high-quality products provided by Burger King, they are becoming increasingly apprehensive about the company’s failure to address the issue of obesity. This apprehension prompted Burger King to start focusing a great deal on aspects of nutritional guidelines. The company also stopped targeting elementary schools through adverts. It also made restrictions on the age of the people who could be targeted in various adverts. Henceforth, the company would only target children aged above 12 years. At first, this practice was restricted to Asian countries. However, it was later on extended to cover all parts of the world where Burger King has established markets (Van & Steinweg, 2008).

Fast food companies should be particularly careful when marketing their products to isolated places, marginalized communities, and impoverished people. The companies should take time to understand the priorities of people in such communities before targeting them with adverts (Gilbert, 2004). Whereas such people may be ready to taste the so-called “allurements of modernity”, it is important that such a change of lifestyle is made in a sustainable manner (Gilbert, 2004). The products should be tailored to meet the nutritional requirements that the members of that community are used to. However, in some cases, this may be impracticable and some cultural adjustments may be necessary. Through proper communication and creative use of language, these cultural adjustments can be promoted in a manner that does not show any prejudice, malice, or ridicule.

Religion

 All over the world, religion greatly influences consumers’ purchasing behaviors. The fast food industry involves products such as cheese, soft drinks burgers, chicken products, fries, and cheese. According to Levit (2003), people of different religions tend to have different views regarding fast food. For example, animals are accorded a special place in the spiritual life of Hindus. This explains why most Hindus are vegetarians. These vegetarians hold the view that it is a sin to kill animals for food. In contrast, Ghosal (2007) points out that christians have no problem with eating all categories of edible meat. On the other hand, Muslims do not eat pork (Ghosal, 2007). For entrepreneurs in the fast food industry to succeed in their business activities, they must learn to respect the religious beliefs of all their customers.

McDonald’s is one of the fast food companies that have achieved tremendous success because of demonstrating unreserved respect for the religious beliefs of all their customers. Most of this success has been achieved within the realm of strategic internationalization. McDonald’s adopts the popular philosophy of thinking from a global perspective but acting locally (Dash, 2010). In India, where most people are vegetarians, McDonald’s sells a product known as Vegetable Mc Nuggets (Lassar & Kulkarni, 2008). In areas where Muslims constitute the majority of the population, McDonald’s promotes a product known as Maharaja Mac (Monika, 2005). Such innovations help the company succeed in its internationalization strategy as well as remain relevant in foreign markets.

In the Middle East, most Arabs love flatbread that is served with chicken-grilled sandwiches (Royle, 1995). McDonald’s has set out to meet this need by introducing Mc Arabia. In other Islamic states including Morocco and Indonesia, McDonald’s has for a long time been delivering halal food after obtaining all the necessary certification (Yeu, 2012). With such certification, local Muslims have never found a reason to protest against the type of fast food being sold by McDonald’s. During Ramadan, the company endeavors to provide foods that Muslims like eating during this important religious occasion.

In Israel, McDonald’s faced a major protest for mixing meat with dairy products in certain fast foods. The Halakhic law, which Jews in Israel strictly adhere to, prohibits all restaurants from selling food that contains a mixture of any type of red meat and dairy products (Risner, 2011). To show respect for this law, McDonald’s introduced Big Macs, a product in which beef was completely separated from cheese.

Another company that has put in place an aggressive internationalization strategy is Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Today, a priority issue for KFC is to establish as many successful franchise restaurants as possible globally. In this undertaking, KFC’s managers have been keen to come up with products that are acceptable to people from different religious backgrounds (Lozada, 2005). However, despite these efforts, the company has had to address numerous religion-related controversies. One such controversy, which pitted Muslims against Christians, was reported in London. Non-Muslims, most of them Christians, set up petitions against KFC for setting aside 74 outlets across the UK for the sale of only halal-related poultry products (Cronk, Hill, & Wickramasekera, 2011). These non-Muslim groups felt alienated by this decision by KFC.

            In the London petition, KFC was also accused of falsely labeling its products as halal. The accusations arose out of disagreements on whether pre-stunning was allowed in the preparation of halal. As a precaution, KFC ensures that the pre-stunning procedure wins the approval of the HFA (Halal Food Authority). In all the 74 outlets that sparked the controversy, the approval of the HFA had already been sought (Cronk, Hill, & Wickramasekera, 2011). In a contribution to this debate, the Lancashire Council of Mosque pointed out that stunning was prohibited in halal. Since this controversy surfaced, Muslims in the UK have remained cautious and vigilant about KFC’s products. This controversy demonstrates the religious remains a critical factor in the internationalization strategies of companies in the fast food industry. Fast food companies that intend to launch internationalization strategies must get all the facts right as far as the religious preferences of the target market are concerned. Without such an understanding, it is impossible to achieve success in the process of strategic internationalization.

            In societies such as London where people of different religions coexist, fast food companies face a very difficult task of balancing the needs of various religious groups. For example, when KFC introduced halal in 74 outlets, non-Muslims were unhappy. Similarly, in Lancashire, where a large population of Muslim lives, non-Muslims felt that the company had deliberately chosen to neglect them. They complained that KFC had stopped delivering their favorite foods such as bacon and pork in the outlets that were designated for the exclusive sale of halal.

Tradition

            Just like religion, tradition plays a critical role in the strategic internationalization of operations in companies that deal in fast food products such as KFC, McDonald’s, and Burger King. KFC has achieved tremendous success in China primarily because of adapting its food products to local traditions. The company has been keen to respect Chinese traditions since it opened its first outlet in China in 1987 (Cui & Ting, 2009). The food products sold by KFC in China are a reflection of the country’s centuries-old food and eating habits. Moreover, KFC would not have succeeded if it did not appreciate the fact that the success of an internationalization strategy depends on the context within which it is being implemented.

            When McDonald’s first ventured into Asia, most of its menu items were rejected by the local people who considered them too westernized (Tanahashi, 2011). The company responded by tailoring the food products in response to local traditions. In China, McDonalds prepares chicken burgers using thigh meat, which is traditionally preferred by the Chinese. McDonald’s has also adapted to local traditions In Japan by selling the Teriyaki burger and shrimp burgers.

Conclusions

            In conclusion, culture plays a critical role in the strategic internationalization of companies operating in the fast food business. The three aspects of culture that these companies should focus on include communication and language, religion, and tradition. Adaptability in these three aspects is imperative if the products sold by fast food companies are to be accepted abroad. This paper has discussed the ways in which McDonalds’, Burger King & KFC were forced to adapt their menus to the cultures of their target markets in order to achieve success. Of the three aspects, religion invokes the strongest reactions from consumers. It may be necessary for these fast food companies to prioritize on adapting their foods to achieve religious acceptability in order to succeed in their goal of strategic internationalization.

References

Cronk, T., Hill, C., & Wickramasekera, R. (2011). Global Business Today: Asia-Pacific (2nd Edition). McGraw Hill, Australia.

Cui, T., & Ting, Z. (2009). American Fast Food in Chinese Market: A Cross Cultural Perspective-The Case of KFC and McDonald’s. University of Halmstad, Sweden.

Dash, K. (2010). McDonald’s in India. Pearson Press, New York.

Ghosal, S. (2007). Organizing Framework. Strategic Management Journal. Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 25-38.

Gilbert, G. (2004). Measuring customer satisfaction in the fast food industry: A cross-national approach. Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp. 371 – 383.

Johnson, S. (2010). Exploring Strategy (9th Ed). FT Prentice Hall, New York.

Lassar, W. & Kulkarni, S. (2008). McDonald’s Ongoing Marketing Challenge: Social Perception in India. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Levitt, T. (2003). Globalization of Markets. Harvard Business Review. Vol. 59, No. 4, pp. 86-101.

Lozada, E. (2005). Globalized childhood? Kentucky Fried Chicken in Beijing. Heinemann, London.

Monika J. (2005). Fast foods and ethical consumer value: A focus on McDonald’s and KFC. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, London.

Risner, M. (2011). Successful Fast-Food Franchising In Brazil & The Role of Culture: Four Cases. John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Royle, T. (1995). Corporate versus societal culture: A comparative study of McDonald’s in Europe. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 52 – 56.

Tanahashi, S. (2011). Succeeding Globally Depends on Localization: A Case Study on McDonald’s Corporation. Harvard University Press, Boston.

Van, R., & Steinweg, T. (2008). Quick scan burger king. Centre for Research on Multinational Corporation, London. 

Yeu, C. (2012). A Comparative Study on International Marketing Mix in China and India: The Case of McDonald’s. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 1054–1059.

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