Total Quality in Fast Food

In the world of fast-food restaurants, product and service quality are what make or break a chain. Both Wendy’s and McDonald’s have spent years and millions of dollars to get the level of quality that they produce just right. The key to the success of both of these fast food giants is total quality management. While they both may share some marketplaces, they both use different processes to get the results that they are looking for. Wendy’s currently operates in North America while McDonald’s operates on a global scale.

While both of these companies provide their customers with a wonderful fast food experience, they do not always use the same procedures to test and market new products. Wendy’s and McDonald’s are known very well in the United States and Canada. One only has to see a girl with bright red braids or hear the phrase “I’m lovin’ it” to suddenly start to crave food from either of these fast-food giants. We are well versed in the menu options available at both chains and many of us could recite several of the menu options off the top of our head.

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The menu at both chains is very carefully researched and tested so as to make sure that each menu item will produce the best possible profit for the customer while delivering the quality that we have come to associate with each company. The big difference between the two companies lies in the markets that they work in. The Wendy’s chain is a North American chain located throughout the United States, Canada, and recently in Mexico. The market that they are working with is somewhat similar, although allowing for some regional differences between the three countries.

McDonald’s, however, works on a worldwide scale. They deal with dozens of different markets which each require their own market research and testing because the culture or dietary needs of those countries is very different from those of other areas of the world. When Wendy’s decides to create a new product they take into consideration the customer that they will be marketing to. Currently, menu items in all three countries are fairly similar without much variation between them. All three countries offer the same burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, fries, and of course the ever-present frosty.

By only operating in one region of the world, Wendy’s is able to test market a product in the United States and if that testing goes favorably then it is marketed in all three countries. A prime example of this sort of testing was Wendy’s new fries. Wendy’s research showed that they were often passed over for other fast food choices because of their lackluster french fries. Wendy’s knew that having a better fry would entice customers to choose Wendy’s over their competitors, which would boost sales figures. Wendy’s started in their test kitchens determining what would make a better fry.

After deciding on a skin-on fry seasoned with sea salt Wendy’s then began test marketing their new fry. After it was determined that the new fry was a much more favorable alternative to their old soggy version Wendy’s began its advertising campaign. In order to ensure that the fries were a success Wendy’s spent nearly 79%, or $17. 7 million, of its measured-media spend pushing fries, compared to spending $26. 9 million for all products in the same month according to Morrison, 2011. This strategy worked and has helped Wendy’s to improve their sales over the past year since the new fries were launched.

It is also part of Wendy’s practices total quality. Wendy’s continues to offer consistently appealing new products in order to compete with their peers. By introducing new items with tried and true menu options and maintaining the quality product that Wendy’s has come to be known for, they are able to maintain a strong presence within the quick-service restaurant industry. McDonald’s, on the other hand, needs to have a different approach to their menu items. At this time you will find a McDonald’s restaurant in more than 119 countries on six continents. This means that their test marketing must be regionally specific.

Each region of the world must create and test products taking into account dietary and taste differences around the world. An example of this rationality of products is the Indian menu. Cows are considered sacred in India. Therefore, the menu in India does not offer any beef products. McDonald’s has swapped out the beef patties in the popular Big Mac with chicken in order to work within the dietary needs of the Indian population. They also offer a veggie burger and several fish options. India is not the only country where McDonald’s offers what would be considered strange fare by customers in the United States.

From shrimp burgers in Asian markets to beer being served in parts of Europe, McDonald’s has reworked its core menu to include items that are familiar to the local population while still being able to produce their product in approximately one minute. Speed of service and menu items, which have become old favorites for consumers, are two elements of McDonald’s total quality strategy. Another example of McDonald’s use of total quality is the use of what is referred to by Beth Kowitt (2011) as platforms. An example of a platform is chicken where McNuggets are the product.

By focusing on platforms and then branching off of them McDonald’s is able to stick to a base menu that always works and then tweak the item in a more creative way without losing the original integrity of the product. This has proved a very successful strategy for McDonald’s and it is one that they will continue to use far into the future. Both Wendy’s and McDonald’s serve the quick-service restaurant consumer. They both do market research and product roll-outs, but their strategy for these roll-outs is different because of the different markets that they work with.

Being a national company means that Wendy’s is able to product test on a smaller scale within one area, where McDonald’s must test within each region of the world that it operates in. Even though their approach to marketing may be different, both companies still practice total quality within their organizations. Both companies are striving to be the top in their market, and using total quality strategies will help them to both stay competitive with each other in North America.


  1. Goetsch, D. L. , & Davis, S. B. (2010). Quality management for organizational excellence: Introduction to total quality (6th ed. . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
  2. Kowitt, B. (2011). WHY McDONALD’S WINS IN ANY ECONOMY. Fortune, 164(4), 70-78. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. MORRISON, M. (2011). FOR WENDY’S, THE PROOF’S IN THE POTATOES AS FANCYFRIES LAUNCH DECLARED A SUCCESS. Advertising Age, 82(13), 5-20. Retrievedfrom EBSCOhost.
  3. Reich, A. Z. , McCleary, K. W. , Tepanon, Y. , ; Weaver, P. A. (2005). The Impact of Productand Service Quality on Brand Loyalty: An Exploratory Investigation of Quick-ServiceRestaurants. Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 8(3), 35-53. doi:10. 13O0/J369v08n03-04

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