JAPAN: Consumers unsure about latest offering from "McDonaldo"
Attempts to categorise the towering Tamago are largely reminiscent of a movie audience from the late eighties gasping their amazement at Superman. Neither a Bigmac, nor an Egg Mcmuffin, however, the latest lunch combo from McDonald's (known locally as McDonaldo) is causing a far more hesitant swell of appreciation from its Japanese consumers.McDonald's is anxious to cater for the particular palate of the Japanese, who support 3347 restaurants and make up the largest market outside the US. Having recently reported a disappointing second quarter, however, the fastfood guru is now attempting to revive its fortunes with a new "forth flavour" (company term for a limited edition menu addition).Dean Barrett, vice president of marketing, explained that while "red meat is not new in Japan," the challenge is adding taste that is relevant to the country. Weighing in at a hefty 584 calories then, the Tamago has yet to become a staple in the health conscious culture better known for its noodles and sushi.Competitors such as Diageo's Burger King, and Tricon Global Restaurants' KFC and Pizza Hut have already got their own consumer-conscious menu. Tempura chicken strips and potato-topped pizza are just two of the culinary attractions competing with McDonald's patty, egg, bacon and "hot aurora sauce."McDonald's has become an important player in the Asia/Pacific market, with sales rising by about 7% over the last year to US$626.5m. With the group expecting to open about 350 new outlets in Japan every year until 2005, however, it remains to be seen if the menu's popularity can also sustain such dramatic growth.
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