Mc Café Set to Challenge Starbucks

Mc Café Set to Challenge Starbucks

Mc Donalds has recently opened in central Paris a McCafe in which ordering hamburgers, french fries or chicken nuggets is not an option. McCafe is home of club sandwiches, pastries and hot beverages. A relevant concept for McDonald’s to adress both a larger audience and multiple food moments along the day.

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6 years ago, Mc Donald’s tested in the Parisian business district of La Defense a salad bar concept without any hamburgers. But, this initiative did not prove positive enough. A few months from now, I had the opportunity to share with you an article about the insightful The Corner, a restaurant located in Australia where McDonald’s tests new products and concepts before rolling them up worldwide. Read more here.

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Here is my take on this Parisian McCafe:

  • I did appreciate both the interior decor and the merchandising. McCafe has turned this restaurant into an elegant and simple Scandinavian style coffee shop, where the atmosphere is minimalist but very pleasant. A few touches of colors on the walls is warming up the whole place and free wifi is running smoothly to please urban mobile addicts. McCafe did very well in a controlled budget. A key factor of success whatever the food concept. Congrats.

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  • Refrigerated cabinets are beautifully designed and cleverly integrated in the restaurant. The customer path is made obvious and easy.

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  • Club sandwiches are tasty and generous. Since McCafe is not selling burgers nor fries, there is no kitchen smell to complain about.

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  • I am less enthusiastic about pastries. Too “industrial” and standardized for me. I truly think that the brand could have done better than displaying here exactly the same offer we find in McDonald’s restaurants. Or test this stand alone McCafe as an upgraded version of McCafe corners.

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  • We can figure out the McCafe main purpose is not healthy fast food. Chips and sodas are available.

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  • Although the coffee machine looks pro and sturdy, coffees and cappuccinos are less tasty here than in most of the independent coffee shops that flourish everywhere in Paris. Are the fair trade coffee beans to be blamed?

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  • The staff is minimal. 2 people are enough to run the store at the time (1:30 PM on week day) when I visited it. Service is cool and thoughtful and not as standardized (and sometimes turgid) as in a Starbucks for example. A very good point.

To wrap up my McCafé embedded experience, I would like to point out a few remarks:

  1. McCafe is all about simplicity. The concept is clean, clear and decent. On top of that, prices are 30% less expensive than in a Starbucks.
  2. McCafe cannot be considered as a healthy fast food concept. Contrary to Leon (see the recent article I wrote about Leon here), McCafe is not showcasing neither organic, local nor gluten-free ingredients.
  3. Who is McCafe typical client? At first, I would say food-conscious and price-sensitive young adults. But, also the vaster audience of people who trust McDonald’s in its capacity to deliver a mastered and secured food concept. When it comes to make up your mind at lunchtime, it can make a difference.

You can click here to read all my previous articles about brands and retail concepts.