I remember visiting my aunt and uncle in Mumbai as a child. This was my first experience outside of the country and to be honest, I was not very happy. I definitely experienced culture shock. I was grumpy the entire trip except on one occasion. One night my aunt, uncle, and parents went out leaving my brother and I under the guidance my my teenaged cousins. For dinner, they took us to a McDonald’s located just down the block from their apartment complex.
The Indian version of McDonald’s is much different from the American version. First, they do not serve beef. Due to the fact that many Indians are Hindus, and Hindus consider the cow to be sacred, one cannot buy the classic hamburger. Instead, potato is used in place of beef. Also, there are chicken sandwich options, and variations on local cuisine such as the McCurry Pan.
Reflecting on my experience at the Indian McDonald’s after having read the Watson article, much of what I recall makes sense. Watson highlights the fact that McDonald’s emphasizes adapting to the local environment wherever a franchise opens. Thus, it makes sense that the restaurant would not offer beef and would offer menu items that resemble the local cuisine. By instituting these practices, they are able to make a more seamless entry into the local culture. It provides the best of both worlds for local consumers: McDonald’s India is foreign or American, but at the same time not too radical as to make it unappealing. People find it to be a safe place to experience American culture.
This allows the company to become embedded. Then, as it becomes a part of everyday life, people make it a part of their routine and continue to make purchases and demand increases. Using this adaptable approach allows McDonald’s to be so successful abroad.