McDonald’s Brilliantly Markets McRib

Inc. calls McDonald’s marketing of McRib brilliant.  The company’s use of exclusivity, scarcity and seasonality makes McDonald’s customers baffled, excited and hooked.  McDonald’s has turned the barbecued pork sandwich into a favorite.  This early, people are speculating if the McRib will make a comeback next year.  Companies can learn much about marketing their products from this successful experience.

McDonald’s announced that its elusive McRib sandwich is back on its menu, available at all U.S. locations until November 14. (For a limited time only!) Since it was introduced in 1982, the McRib has been a fleeting menu item, irking customers by never settling in one location for too long. (Hurry, get it while it lasts!) And in the last decade, McDonald’s has begun using the McRib’s alleged eternal disappearance (One last chance!) and miraculous comeback (Wait, there’s more!) as quirky promotional events.

Does all that hype sound familiar? While McDonald’s playing hard-to-get with the McRib certainly baffles most customers, from a business perspective, it has proven to be a wildly effective marketing strategy. The McRib’s marketing strategy bundles the appeal of exclusivity, scarcity, and seasonality into one savory package. And it’s become a strategy so successful that McDonald’s is making the promotion perennial.

Want a piece of the marketing magic? Here’s what you can learn from the McRib’s comeback—again and again—and how you can add some more special sauce to your own limited-time-only campaigns.

Scarcity works, but only if your product is known. “The limited-time-only campaign is as old as business itself, but it has to be done carefully,” says Scott Stratten, marketing consultant and author of Un-Marketing.

Your customers know your products better than you do. In the case of the McRib, McDonald’s has always been clued into its customers’ odd obsession for the sandwich.

Photo by belovedadvertising

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