As a chain restaurant expands to different cultures, it will have to adapt to the local tastes. In India, where most hindus avoid eating beef, McDonald’s made a Big Mac using chicken meat, renaming it the “Chicken Maharaja Mac.” It was successful. Meanwhile, in Mexico, where Mexicans are surrounded by traditional dishes, Taco Bell has never successfully opened a location. They couldn’t adapt to and stand out from the local foods. The lesson is: chain restaurants have to change some of their formula from time to time if they want a global reach.
Let’s look at Japan, a country that highly values novelty and aesthetics with their food. Here are a few ways chain restaurants have adapted to Japan’s local flavor:
1) Their McDonald’s cheeseburger is a Cheese Katsu Burger. It’s a hamburger bun with a deep-fried pork cutlet stuffed with cheese, a layer of cabbage and some curry sauce.
2) Their KFC chicken is still the same chicken, but its often dusted with yuzu schichimi.
3) Starbucks, which rarely changes its menu, offers a Frappuccino with squares of coffee jelly (a local favorite).
4) The pizza topping possibilities in Japan are incredible. Pizza Hut toppings include mochi, shrimp, mentaiko sauce, Mayo Q, nori, corn and mayonnaise. At one point, Pizza Hut even offered mini corn dogs stuffed into the crust.
5) McDonald’s menu items heavily features shrimp, and they even made a burger out of it. The Ebi Filet-O is made from a patty of battered and fried shrimp with Thousand Island dressing and lettuce.
6) McDonald’s also has a Mega Tomago burger, a big mac with the addition of bacon and an egg patty.
While chain restaurants don’t change in many international markets, they almost always do so in Japan. The Japanese people have a distinct taste for exotic foods.