Caveat Emptor - Who Said Latin Was Dead?

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The Expansion of McDonald’s Business in Thailand

Pariya Rinrattanakorn
Bangkok University

INTRODUCTION
Today, organizations pay attention to the effectiveness of communication with their customers. Providing information and building a trustful relationship with the customers are more important than just solely persuading customers to buy the company's products (Proctor & Kitchen, 2002). Furthermore, in the age of globalization, organizations have begun to enlarge their businesses to the international markets. Because customers are different in cultures, attitudes, values, and beliefs, different communication strategies are necessary in order to reach each segment of the customers. Specifically speaking, the organizations that expand their businesses to other areas should be concerned with communication in locality. Caywood (1997) stated that providing information and maintaining relationship with customers is a significant goal for an organization. The organization tries to find effective ways to reach their customers. The companies that expand their businesses to international or multinational markets ought to adapt communication strategies to be compatible with different regions, cultures, and customers. The effective adaptation can lead to success in local and global markets.

McDonald’s, a famous quick service restaurant, which expands its businesses in various countries in the world, similarly attempts to adapt its products and services to be compatible with cultural differences and customers’ demands in each area. Although McDonald’s restaurant had been originally established in California, U.S.A, by two brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald, in 1948, McDonald’s has broaden its branches to international markets. Consequently, McDonald’s is currently the leading global quick service restaurant with more than 30,000 local restaurants in more than 100 countries including Thailand (History, 2008).

The first McDonald’s restaurant in Thailand was opened in 1985 when Mr. Bulsuk and his friend wrote to the McDonald’s headquarter expressing their interest in expanding the franchise to Thailand. Mr. Bulsuk and McDonald’s Corporation later registered McThai and opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in Thailand on March 16, 1985, at Amarin Plaza. Currently, there are more than one hundred McDonald’s restaurants opening 24 hours in many parts of Thailand including Bangkok, Central, Northern, Eastern, Southern, Western, and Northeastern parts (History, 2008).

In order to create a trustful relationship with customers, organizations have to recognize customers’ uncertainty. Normally, the uncertainty about products or services are likely to reduce when customers receive more information from various channels such as print media, popular articles, broadcast programming, point-of-purchase displays, and personal acquaintances (Anderson & Weitz, 1989).

Previous studies about the Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT) emphasized a new acquaintance relationship. They focused principally on using this theory to examine the communication processes between partners in the initial stages of a relationship or interactions between strangers (Berger, 1975; Berger & Calabrese, 1975). Although the concept of this theory refers to various communication contexts including interpersonal, intercultural, health care, mass communication, and organizational contexts, previous research has not fully applied Uncertainty Reduction Theory in the marketing relationship between an organization and its customers, particularly in the context of the relationship between a quick service restaurant and Thai customers. Besides, the previous research has not addressed about using information-seeking strategies to reduce customers’ uncertainty and executing communication strategies to build trustful relationship with the customers in the context of quick service restaurant. In order to fill those gaps, the purpose of this study is to examine the marketing...
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