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How is McDonald's making restaurant experiences more inclusive in India?


By Amit Bapna, Editor-at-large

February 10, 2021 | 6 min read

A look at what went into McDonald's launching EatQual, an initiative to serve people with limited hand mobility to make their experience in restaurants more inclusive.


McDonald's launches EatQual in India

Last December, around the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, QSR brand McDonald’s announced the launch of EatQual in India. Conceptualized as a special pack for customers with limited hand mobility, this is in line with the brand’s inclusion agenda and making their restaurants accessible to everyone, shares Arvind RP, director - marketing and communications, McDonald’s India (West and South) in a chat with The Drum.

This include installing ramps wherever possible, making washrooms wheelchair-friendly and the launch of EatQual has been a step ahead in this journey towards fostering inclusivity, he adds.

EatQual is essentially a special pack for customers with limited hand mobility and has been introduced in most of the restaurants in the West & South of India, shares Arvind RP. It is an optional packaging, and customers do not have to pay any additional amount for it.

The idea of EatQual germinated from an extensive research that the brand had conducted with its creative partner, DDB Mudra India and a leading Indian NGO, National Society for Equal Opportunities for the Handicapped (NASEOH), that has been working with people with disabilities for over 50 years.

The problem and the solution

The findings showcased the difficulties that individuals with limited upper hand mobility face while biting into a burger in the standard packaging, as it required them to use both their hands. It was this challenge that was set out to address, says Arvind, by launching the EatQual packaging – a culmination of numerous design trials and iterations.

With the help of Mumbai-based NASEOH, detailed interviews were conducted with this community to get a deeper understanding of the need gap, post which the creative partner agency started developing several prototypes of the packaging. These prototypes were then tried and researched. Each research gave the team a set of feedback and insights that were incorporated in the next iteration of the design.

During their conversations and research with experts and NGOs in this field, DDB team realised how tedious eating a burger is for those with limited hand mobility. In fact, burgers are always avoided when food is ordered for the differently-abled and for a brand that’s known for its iconic burgers, it was quite a big challenge and one that needed to be addressed.

Shares Rahul Mathew, chief creative officer, DDB Mudra Group, “We took a lot of feedback from the experts and observed the struggles in eating a burger and then arrived at the first prototype for EatQual.” It has been a year-long journey, where the prototype has been tweaked and evolved, he adds.

Life beyond the product design and the stores

Not just in product designing, but NASEOH also gave access to their faculty members who helped the team with a broader understanding of the world of disability. Says Arvind, “this understanding manifested into an EatQual training programme for the McDonald’s crew to ensure that when a guest with any disability steps into any McDonald’s outlet their entire experience is wholesome.”

An India-only launch, wholly conceptualized and developed in India, this innovative packaging has already been introduced at key McDonald’s restaurants in West and South India, and the feature is soon to be launched on the McDelivery app as well.


McDonald's India launches EatQual
McDonald's India launches EatQual

Creative storytelling

To get the message of the new launch across, along with in-store messaging, the brand also launched a film with DDB Mudra that showcases how EatQual makes the experience of enjoying McDonald’s burgers inclusive.

In an era of increasing awareness and conversation around diversity and inclusion, the fast-food brand is actually seeking to make an experience inclusive and that is what makes it unique – by making the very act of eating a burger inclusive thanks to EatQual.

Happy recovery for the happy meal brand

Outside of the inclusivity drive, McDonald's is riding a post-pandemic recovery, along with the QSR sector. This has been guided by two broad trends, shares RP Arvind.

Firstly, there is an Increased focus on safety and hygiene. Given the increased emphasis on safety and hygiene, consumers have gravitated towards trusted brands and those who follow the highest standards of food safety and hygiene.

Secondly, there is a preference for convenient ways of accessing food. He explains, given the lockdowns and the fact that customers have been wary of stepping out, they sought convenient and faster ways of getting food with minimal exposure and contact. This included getting food through delivery, store pick-up, on-the-go and even drive-thrus.

In fact, the brand has the highest number of drive-thrus in the country and the drive-thru stores were the first ones to recover vis-a-vis the pre-Covid levels, adds Arvind.


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