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McDonald's and Monopoly: A Winning Combination

Wed, Aug 21, 2013

It’s that time of the year again - where McDonald’s Monopoly promotion comes back in full force for the summer as consumers storm the fast food restaurant in hopes of hitting the jackpot and winning the big-ticket prizes.  Since 1987, McDonald’s collaboration with Hasbro’s Monopoly has proven to be an enormous marketing success.  Over the years, McDonald's customers have shown more frequent consumption during the months of the sweepstakes, and as a result, revenue sky rockets.  If you are not familiar with this contest, McDonald's teams up with Monopoly one month every year and puts game pieces on certain foods on the menu.  These game pieces are then collected by the customer in hopes of filling the Monopoly board in order to redeem prizes.  If you collect all of the necessary properties of the same color, you win a large prize (although there are also smaller prizes).  This marketing strategy has shown increasing popularity each year, but what are the actual odds of winning a prize... and what has made this promotion so successful? 

Similar to the golden ticket in “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory”, the McDonald’s Monopoly sweepstakes gives consumers the dream of winning the jackpot with something tasty to eat for no extra cost.  The interesting concept behind the Monopoly promotion is "one in four wins".  Although this may sound like great odds, 90% of these prizes will be food related, not one of the big prizes such as a car, money, or vacation.  This method not only makes the consumer feel like winners the majority of the time, but it also brings them back into the store more frequently to consume more.mcdonalds ht business insider

In order to boost the success of this contest, McDonald's incorporates another clever strategy involving the distribution of different game pieces.  McDonald's strategically makes some properties easy to get, while others nearly impossible so that the customer feels like they are close to winning (when really, the odds are very much against them).  For example the odds of getting the property Park Place are 1 in 11, while the odds of receiving Boardwalk are 1 in 618 million, making it almost as likely to win the lottery. (You need both pieces to win $1 million.) The result of this technique set by McDonalds is that the consumers then feel the need to buy the food -- not even to curb their hunger, but simply to win the game of Monopoly.  

Another strategy that this promotion encourages is the purchase of items not on the Dollar Menu.  McDonald's does this by only putting game pieces on items of a certain price, so that if the customer wants to play, they must spend more than the bare minimum.  Over the years McDonald's has perfected this method by knowing the exact equilibrium price where the customers demand meets the specific price the customer is willing to pay. By doing this, McDonalds maximizes the amount of revenue they can generate in this contest while also keeping customers happy.

Overall McDonald’s partnership with Hasbro has nearly been perfected.  By incorporating all of these strategies into their marketing plan, they have single handedly made this promotion an exclusive time where business is enormous.  Although the odds of winning may seem great, in order to win a grand prize you must be outrageously lucky and eat a lot of McDonald's to improve your chances.  But as they say in the gambling world, “you gotta play to win!”


Categories: marketing, advertising, promotional, promotions

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