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McDonald's future focus on black consumers raised as chief marketing officer retires
By Ken Smikle
Target Market News
September 25, 2013) The news that McDonald's Chief Marketing Officer, Neal Golden, will be retiring in early 2014 raises questions about the corporation's future commitment to -- and on-going success in -- African-American marketing. Ethnic marketing has long been a guiding principal in McDonald's strategies for tapping all consumers.

In 2009 Golden told an audience at the Association of National Advertisers conference that "McDonald's leads with ethnic insights," and that ethnic segments were leading American consumers' lifestyle trends. That commitment has yielded big returns for McDonald's. Golden said forty percent of the company's U.S. business comes from black, Hispanic and Asian customers.

McDonald's is the nation's third largest advertiser in black-targeted media, according to Target Market News' report, "The Buying Power of Black America," with annual expenditures of more than $31 million.

Among African-Americans, McDonald's is the perennial QSR leader. The company receives the largest portion of the $22 billion that black consumers spend annually in restaurants, according to the Buying Power report.

Success in winning over black consumers didn't come naturally for McDonald's, and Golden has said that mistakes were made along the road to its dominance. But the company was aided by its long term overall commitment to involving African-Americans in all aspects of the business. Key among those relationships has been the 30-plus years it has with Burrell Communications as its African-American ad agency of record.

With a new CMO appointment comes the possibility of changes in how the restaurant giant will pursue African-American consumers. Industry watchers, however, say that if history provides any insights, then it is unlikely that McDonald's will shrink from its current position or pursuits. They point to the fact that McDonald's ethnic success did not begin with Golden's arrival. He succeeded Bill Lamar, the company's former marketing chief, the first African-American in the post, and who put many of the components in place for the company's current successful strategies.

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