McDonald’s prices exploit poor

If you’re looking for a cheap meal from McDonald’s, get your nugget fix from the River Oaks McDonald’s.’

Their prices on the four-piece McNugget Happy Meal are 10 cents cheaper than the restaurant on Elgin.

A classified corporate document revealed Australian McDonald’s encouraged franchises located in less affluent areas to raise prices on the same meals.’

The price recommendations allegedly do not target poorer neighborhoods, but instead look to a combination of factors to guide pricing.’

‘Refinement takes into consideration individual factors that relate to each store,’ according to an internal McDonald’s corporate document. The document also mentioned bringing Australian pricing more in line with global McDonald’s policies and pricing strategies.

As McDonald’s is a franchise, there are few standardized pricing mandates, with most being guidelines. Although the Australian corporate entity is different from the U.S. McDonald’s, the memo suggested the changes were a standard global practice.

‘The Australian approach has been brought into closer alignment with McDonald’s global practice,’ McDonald’s Australia corporate communications manager Bronwyn Stubbs said to The Advertiser.

McDonald’s has been under scrutiny for serving unhealthy food as a flagship of the fast food industry, most famously by Super Size Me, a 2004 documentary made by Morgan Spurlock, who ate nothing but McDonald’s food for a month, gaining a little over 24 pounds and suffered a host of side effects relating to mood and organ function.’

Iat is common knowledge that fast food is unhealthy for the body, but the perception also includes fast food as cheap and convenient. For some parents, it is also food their kids will reliably eat.

The item priced for the highest cost increase was the Happy Meal, rising 16.5 percent in May, according to The Advertiser.’

UH has a diverse population of ethnicity and nationality, but also of age ranges.’ The UH Child Care Center provides child care services for 153 children and is operating at capacity.’

The Elgin Street McDonald’s is less than two miles from the childcare center.’
James McNeal, a former professor of marketing at Texas A&M is an expert marketing to children.’

‘Children begin their consumer journey in infancy and certainly deserve consideration as consumers at that time,’ McNeals says in his book The Kids Market: Myths and Realities.

Kids don’t have control of family finances, and they are impulse-driven and may not be mature enough to understand parental limitations or health choices.’ Yet, they are significant motivators of buying choices. McNeal estimated that children under 14 years of age influenced nearly half of U.S. household spending in 2005, according to The Economist.’

The Happy Meal is a package deal guaranteed to appeal to children and represents the highest price gap, according the internal document.’

Children are more apt to begin making purchasing decisions at mass merchandisers, some of which now feature McDonald’s.’ They are also motivated to purchase by the addition of play – which the Happy Meal satisfies with the addition of a toy.’

College students are also prone to start eating fast food, or eating out more frequently. As many students may not have a car or are reluctant to abandon a hard-earned parking space to finding late-night food, McDonald’s is a convenient alternative.’

In February, Health magazine released their top 10 list of healthiest fast food restaurants, with McDonald’s at No. 8. The magazine cited cost as the primary motivator behind making the list.

‘One of the ways many Americans are saving money during the recession is through coupons and cheap eats at fast food joints. We can’t all eat expensive food nor can we afford to eat in restaurants, even after many places offer discounts,’ Health magazine stated in an article.

Price-gouging laws do not apply to fast food restaurants, as they do not qualify as providing necessary services or products.’ There is no reason to get food at Mc Donald’s when there are grocery stores nearby.’

However, parents, students and those with limited time and money frequently turn to fast food as a false economy.

The health implications of McDonald’s food are negative.’ What is not common knowledge is fast food is a targeted economic drain on populations who can afford it the least.

‘Look after the customer and the business will take care of itself,’ McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc once said.’

In the evolution of his restaurants, caveat emptor, or buyer beware, may be more appropriate.

Shaista Mohammed is an anthropology and communication sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].

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