Reasons and Strategies for McDonald's Penetration to Indian Market

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Reasons and Strategies for McDonald's Penetration to Indian Market

Reasons for McDonald’s to enter Indian market

1.      Consumer Market
India represents one of the most promising consumer markets in the World. It is the world’s second most populous country with estimated population level of more than 1 billion people – to be exact, 1,149,335,939 as of today ( See the graph of the countries with highest amount of people in the World in attachment A. The population is growing at 2 percent (or 20 million people) a year, which is equivalent to the entire population of Australia (Goldammer, 2001). With the existing population growth trends, India is estimated to become a most populous country in the World in the nearest future (see attachment B).

2.      Food Market
The Indian food market at the moment is approximately $69.4 billion, of which value-added food products comprise $22.2 billion. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has estimated that the food processing sector has the potential of attracting US$ 33 billion of investment in 10 years and generating additional employment of 9 million persons (Seth, 2008).

3.      Buying potential growth
India’s economic growth has accelerated significantly over the past decade and so is the spending power of its citizens. The average income has doubled since 1985 and projected to triple in just 20 years, according to the Mckinsey Global Institute consumer report (McKinsey, 2007). Based on these projections, Retail sales in India's consumer goods market are expected to grow to $400 billion by 2010, making it one of the world's five biggest (McKinsey, 2008).

4.      Economy Liberalization
From 1991, India is continuing to move forward with market-oriented economy liberalization reforms. Recent development includes liberalized foreign investment and exchange regimes, industrial decontrol, significant reductions in tariffs and other trade barriers, reform and modernization of the financial sector, significant adjustments in government monetary and fiscal policies and safeguarding intellectual property rights (Wikipedia, 2008).

5.      Lessons learned from competitor’s cases
In spite of the overly proactive approach entering new markets around the World, McDonald’s did not storm the Indian Market for long, understanding the possible difficulties to be accepted by the Indian consumer. However, by 1997, the comprehensive research has been completed on the positive perspectives for market penetration. The lessons from the competitors were learnt (as temporary closure all KFC restaurants in India in mid-90), and the strategic changes were approved (Coleman, 2006).

Two strategies that McDonald’s could develop to overcome the barriers of Indian Market

1.      Product Localization
One of the main obstacles in the process of introduction of the McDonald’s traditional food to the Indian market was related to the local religious and traditional customs, as cow-worshiping and not consuming beef (82% of the entire population), and being completely vegetarian (20% of the entire population). To overcome these difficulties, McDonald’s revised its recipes to comply with the food restrictions of the Indian population (Kannan, 2005). Beef and pork products are not served to cater to Indian religious sensitivities. Chicken and fish are the only meat products used. The McDonald’s traditional Big Mac has been replaced with the Maharaja Mac, which was originally made with lamb but is now made with chicken (see attachment C).

Significant part of the Indian McDonald’s menu is vegetarian to satisfy needs of the local population, not interested in the meet products. To show clear distinction between meat burgers and vegetarian burgers, these meals are prepared in separate areas of the restaurant because of the strict religious laws about preparation of food for vegetarians and meat-eaters. Cooks preparing vegetarian dishes wear distinctive green aprons (Wikipedia, 2008).

To make the food closer to the traditional tastes, McDonald’s has blended various Indian spices to prepare specific meat and vegetarian menus. Experts say the fact that McDonald’s has altered its menu in India, with choices adapted to local tastes, gave a significant boost to the market penetration (IANS, 2004).  

2.      Geographical Targeting
To succeed on the Indian market, McDonald’s has to investigate carefully all the featured locations for the new restaurants establishment, making necessary adjustments to already localized menu. Potentially promising locations were chosen in the urban areas of Hi-Tech employment and fast rising middle-class population. Thanks to the boom in technology and outsourcing trends to India, rapid development of the software industry and call centers, the young professionals, leaning to the Western lifestyle, are the easy target for McDonald’s (IANS, 2004). In the metropolitan areas, the restaurant has increasingly become a convenience brand enjoying great popularity among children as well (Coleman, 2006).

 For the smaller cities with less developed industry and thinner layer of middle class population, McDonald’s “serves as luxury inspirational brand where “climbers” or those aspiring to move up the social ladder would want to go,” explains Vikram Bakshi MD, McDonald's (North India). MacDonald’s should make geographical adjustments not only for the restaurant outlook, location, and menu, but also introduce tailor-make prices to suit Indian wallets in various locations (Coleman, 2006).

The further geographical targeting includes building new sites for McDonald’s near major highways to accommodate growing amount of the hungry drivers, and opening trade locations at the major railway stations (starting from the Old Delhi Railway station).


As of beginning of this year McDonald’s had 123 restaurants in India, and is planning to double the number by the end of the year. Smart, carefully planned strategy for the market penetration appeared to be very successful in India, overcoming the cultural obstacles to the product introduction.


Coleman, B. (2006, October 13). MNC fast-food chains think India for growth. The Economic Times. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from

Goldammer, T. (2001). Passage to India. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from

IANS (2004, May 31). McDonald's to expand in India, export local recipes. Retrieved July 29, 2008, from

Kannan, S. (2005, December 7). Capitalism and cow worship. Retrieved July 29, 2008, from

McKinsey Global Institute (2007, May). The “bird of gold”: The rise of India’s consumer market. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from

McKinsey & Co. (2008). Winning the Indian consumer. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from

Seth Associates (2008). Food and drug industry in India. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from

Wikipedia (2008). Economy of India. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from

Wikipedia (2008). McDonald’s products (International). Retrieved July 29, 2008, from's_products_(international)#India

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