When I think of South Korea, I think of green bottles of soju on top of plastic picnic tables and cafes on the second, third and fourth levels of buildings. I think of a mecca of late-night food stands and a lifestyle built around convenience and logic. Although I haven’t been to South Korea since I was two years old, from the news and blogs I read, it seems pretty darn exciting with food carts on every corner and quaint little restaurants tucked away in every hidden street.
On my business team, I have a teammate from South Korea. He had just come back from a two-year military service, and when I dreamily asked him about what Korea was like, the first thing he said was, “Delivery.”
In the Kano model of product development and customer satisfaction, there are three levels of quality: basic, performance and excitement. The “basic” quality refers to a product characteristic that has a limited effect on customer satisfaction but is something customers require and need. In Korea, food delivery is a basic quality. There are no delivery charges, nor any minimum fees. On top of that, restaurants will deliver almost anywhere. My teammate said that he had fried chicken delivered to him at the beach. Amazing.
A recent addition to a legendary fast-food chain’s menu is just another testament to the wonderfully confusing and delightful world of South Korea. McDonald’s enthusiasts will now be able to wash down their Big Macs and quarter pounder with an ice cold beer.
McDonald’s will open its first premium hamburger and draft beer-selling store in Seongnam, a city near Seoul, according to NBC News. Depending on the success of the Seongnam location, McDonald’s plans to open similar stores throughout posh Gangnam and trendy Sinchon.
While different types of alcohol have been available in select McDonald’s chains throughout a few countries in Europe, the new South Korean location opening Monday will be the first of its kind in Asia.
According to NBC News, customers who purchase a “Signature Burger” will have the option to switch out their normal fountain drinks with a beer for a small upgrade charge. The Signature Burger allows customers to build their own burger by adding their favorite fixings.
This new beverage addition is McDonald’s attempt to answer the fierce competition that casual dining and hip gourmet burger joints have been dishing out. In Korea, the number of people opting for an alcoholic beverage to accompany their burgers has risen, while the number of teenagers visiting fast-food chains has sharply declined (the legal drinking age in South Korea is 19).
Restaurateurs have picked up on this new trend, adding craft beers and other alcoholic beverages to their menus. Even established chain giants, such as McDonald’s, seem to feel threatened and are quickly evolving with the times. According to Pulse News, the fast-food industry is “trying to fend off growing competition from casual dining and gourmet burger restaurants and boost sales.”
Koreans love their spirits. EuroMonitor conducted a study in 2014 that showed that South Koreans consume the most alcohol per week than any other country in the world. They take approximately 14 shots of alcohol per week. For comparison’s sake, that is four times more than the average American.
Whether it’s due to the increasing competition faced by other hipper restaurants or due to the sprit-loving culture of South Korea, this new move made by McDonald’s seems to mark the beginning of a new era in the restaurant industry. The next time I visit South Korea, maybe I’ll have McDonald’s deliver a burger and beer to the beach. Cheers.