AUS Inspectors watching McDonald’s low-income pricing

CEO Catriona Noble,

CEO Catriona Noble,

FranchiseFool broke into North America this story, earlier today: McDonald’s: Lovin’ the Profits while Targetin’ the Poor.

Leaked confidential papers (confirmed by an anonymous franchisee) indicates that McDonald’s will increase their food prices, disproportionally in lower-income communities.

It seems their research shows that the poorer someone is, the less likely they’ll complain or switch to other quick service restaurants.

ABC News reports in Inspectors to watch McDonalds pricing that at least one state government does not appreciate the use of so-called demand-based pricing by the multinational:

The South Australian Government has fast food chain McDonald’s in its sights over news of a new pricing structure.

It says the food chain must reveal whether it plans to raise prices at selected restaurants, especially those in some lower-income areas.

In the accompanying audio clip, SA Consumers Minister Gail Gago is quoted as saying, if the reports are true, McDonald’s is behaving in an “incredibly appalling and disappointing” manner and she suggests consumers may want to communicate directly with McDonald’s on this matter.

In another article, McDonald’s CEO, Catriona Noble seems to be saying that income levels relate to restaurants and not to citizens and that somehow increasing prices, increases consumer choice:

…prices were not based on socio-economic factors but rather on a restaurant-by-restaurant basis, with customer price sensitivity measured at different outlets.

“We really let the customer speak,” she said. “And that’s exactly what customers have the right to do. (They can say) ‘hey, that price increase is too much for me to handle and I’m going to come to you less often.”

I know of no other metric other than mean household income for price sensitivity.

Ms. Noble could have cleared this confusion up by simply stating that household income is not used for marketing purposes by this corporation. But that may have created a certain legal vulnerability.

One Response to AUS Inspectors watching McDonald’s low-income pricing

  1. Carol Cross says:

    Maximizing profits on the backs of the poor is not a new idea. I remember many years ago when my Uncle, who was a top executive of a popular food chain in Chicago, came under fire because the newspapers revealed that the prices on necessary grocery items were higher in the poorer neighborhoods.

    When the newspaper, The Chicago Tribune, I think, disclosed this to the public, there was an uproar and this corporation had to apologize and do some really fancy PR to get out from under the fire. (Now, unfotunately, so many of the newspapers are going under and who will watch the exploiters for the people?)

    Obviously, in the name of profits, the poor can be exploited because these areas are generally underserved to begin with and the poor have fewer alternatives and options open to them.

    Ugly is as ugly does and this great smbol of successful capitalism based on the exploitive franchise model lives up to its promise.

    Guess those “golden arches” have abandoned the “golden rule” that is burried in the corporation’s quest for more gold.


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