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McDonald's Taps Into Local Décor in China

Bamboo basket lights, abacus room divider establish an upscale, aspirational environment at a new restaurant.
April 22, 2014

​GUANGZHOU – AdAge featured McDonald’s and its new Guangzhou, China, restaurant this week, highlighting how the QSR has embraced local eating customs and aesthetic in its new restaurant.

“Hanging lights are styled on the bamboo baskets used for steaming food, and a giant abacus serves as a room divider,” AdAge notes, adding that the most meaningful change can be found in the tables themselves.

Round tables seat up to 10 in the restaurant, “wasted space” in other locations but “a staple of banquets and a symbol of togetherness,” AdAge writes, which connects with McDonald’s new slogan in China: “It’s good to get together.”

China represents the third largest market for McDonald’s, after the U.S. and Japan. The QSR is committed to promoting its togetherness theme, as it purchased three consecutive minutes of airtime after the country’s evening news to debut commercials.

McDonald’s executives said that as Chinese society continues to urbanize, the company wants to be a focal point for socializing.

"Our research says that in China, consumers see McDonald's as a place for gathering and socialization – and that's very different from the U.S. consumer," said Christine Xu, VP and chief marketing officer of McDonald's China. "In the U.S. a lot of consumption is made in the drive-thru lanes, so the way it's consumed is different. The way it fits into their lifestyle is different."

The restaurant here also incorporates more upscale aesthetics, positioning it as an aspirational destination. The design could transfer to other outlets in China as well as other countries, with the appropriate design adaptations.

"It could be rolled out in other markets, like India, but with Indian elements in the design," said Azmir Jaafar, vice president and chief development officer of McDonald's China. 

McDonald’s is the number two QSR in China, behind KFC. It opened 275 restaurants in China last year and it plans to add 300 in 2014.