Subsequent initiatives included a breakfast menu available nationwide, with the introduction of the Egg McMuffin in 1973.
Ronald McDonald was first seen in a television appearance in 1963, and has since become the ubiquitous company representative and also ambassador of charity involvement in the form of Ronald McDonald House, which was established in 1974 as a key element of the company's philanthropic community involvement. The Happy Meal was introduced in 1979, which pioneered the promotional concept of marketing to children by giving away toys and games with meal purchases. This concept has since been adopted by all major burger chains, and has evolved into a significant promotional and tie-in tool for partnerships with major entertainment companies and events. Having created the promotional toy tool with the introduction of Happy Meals in 1976, McDonald's is the leader in toy-based promotions in both foodservice and across all industries. (www.datamonitor.com)
McDonald's suffered from a series of strategic blunders and a deteriorating public image in the mid-1990s. These slips included the launch of the low-fat McLean Deluxe sandwich, which was very poorly received, and the launch of the adult-targeted Arch Deluxe sandwich, which did not win consumer acceptance, whilst operating margins were negatively impacted by heavy couponing; The Campaign 55 promotion, a US$0.55 sandwich offer subject to a variety of confusing conditions, proved too difficult and was pulled.
In an attempt to find growth opportunities outside of the saturated burgers segment, McDonald's took a step towards diversification in 1998, when it purchased Latin American fast food chain Chipotle, and then in 1999 with the acquisition of Ohio-based pizza chain Donato's Pizza. In the same year, the company announced its intention to purchase the bankrupt Boston Market chain of restaurants that specialized in meal replacement and limited FSR. The sale was approved in 2000, and constituted McDonald's first major acquisition outside of its QSR stronghold.
In response to continuing criticism regarding its foods' nutritional content and to broaden its appeal to health conscious consumers, McDonald's has added a variety of healthier meal options, including premium salads and fresh fruit. The company discontinued its "supersize" menu items in 2004, and in 2006, McDonald's was the first fast food restaurant to post nutritional information on the packaging of each of its food items. The new packaging will use bar charts and icons to detail five basic nutritional elements - calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates and sodium.
McDonald's is by far the leading fast food burger chain in the US, with nearly a 45% market share in foodservice. The company does, however, face strong competition, like other foodservice operators, but its ever growing market penetration, new product innovation and strong advertising backing helped the company see a consecutive value share increase between 2000 and 2005.
The reach of the McDonald's brand has posed growth challenges in recent years, as saturation presents limits to opportunities for unit growth in the US, the company's main market. The company initially turned to a strategy of diversification, evident in its acquisitions of Chipotle