Fri. May 24th, 2024

Let’s face it: being a product manager at a multi-billion dollar restaurant company can’t be an easy job. At both McDonalds and Yum Brands (think KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell), their product managers realize how important the Chinese market is to their companies. Both firms realize they need to take steps to modify their definition of product development in order to boost sales in China and, having analyzed the 885 million Chinese who own mobile phones, both firms have decided that they need to do more work. about how they do business. 

The challenges of doing business in China 

The past year has not been kind to any of these global restaurant chains. Honestly, it’s not really their fault and there’s no way a product manager could have anticipated the issues they were going to face. A supplier used by both firms was accused by the Chinese media of supplying both firms with expired meat. When this story broke, both companies experienced a drop in sales from which they could not recover. 

It can be difficult to determine how important China is to both companies, but if you look at their financial results, a story begins to emerge. Yum reports that it derives about half of its total revenue from the Chinese market. In a recent quarter, they reported that their sales in China fell 4.9%. McDonalds does not report how much money it makes in China, but they did report that their sales declined 4.8% in the first quarter recently. This won’t look good on anyone’s product manager resume. 

As product managers, when faced with market challenges like this, we must be creative. We need to look very carefully at our market and see what it is telling us. When you look at the Chinese consumer market, two things immediately stand out. The first is that Chinese consumers are very digital: everyone has a mobile phone. The second thing is that credit cards are not used much. Most people pay in cash. If you have a restaurant, you can imagine how this slows everything down. 

How to Add Mobile Devices to the Chinese Side of Your Business 

Both McDonalds and Yum have decided that the way to get people to return to their restaurants and start shopping for food is to add more mobile support to the shopping process. Although they are taking different paths to get where they want to be, both firms are pursuing the same two goals. Both firms want to allow their customers to use their mobile phones to order and then when they show up at the store to pick up their food, they want them to be able to pay for the food using their mobile phone. 

McDonalds is interested in taking the use of the mobile device to place an order a step further. McDonalds product managers have created what they call “Create Your Own Taste” kiosks that allow customers to build their own hamburger by choosing from 24 separate ingredients. This new feature has exceeded McDonald’s estimates by 5 times and they are currently considering implementing it in more restaurants in China. 

Both McDonalds and Yum are leading the way in China. While it is true that customers would prefer to make payments with their mobile phones rather than with their purses or wallets, not many companies currently support this ability. People who see these things say they expect mobile payments to take off faster in China than in the US, in part due to the lack of credit card use. If McDonalds and Yum can get it right, they’ll be in the right place at the right time! 

What does all this mean to you 

The challenge of getting a product management job done right can often have a lot to do with the size of the market you’re trying to serve. At McDonalds and Yum Brands, their product manager’s job description tells them that they are after a global market and that they especially want to do well in China. This won’t be easy to do, but they believe that mobile devices are the key to their long-term success. 

Both firms have been affected by a scandal in China that caused a drop in their sales. To win back customers, they now want to start using the mobile process to allow customers to place orders and then use their mobile phones to pay for those orders when they come to pick up their food. McDonalds is taking it a step further and establishing kiosks that allow customers to custom design their burgers. Mobile payments are expected to take off in China and this represents a great opportunity for both companies. 

Both McDonalds and Yum product managers are taking a big risk trying to implement support for m services