$4.2 Billion Marketing Budget – The Booming Fast Food Industry

The other day I was driving to work and saw several billboards for fast food joints – everything from Arby’s to McDonalds to Del Taco. Fast food is a huge industry that is extremely competitive. Then I started thinking about how these giants market their businesses to attract more customers to keep their outrageous revenue stream coming in.

Of course, part of it is their branding – their tag lines, their logo, etc. – but a large part of it is also how they actually sell to their customers via advertisements. These advertisements range from ads in the newspaper to direct mailing to television advertisements…and yes, even billboards.

According to Tom Philpott, the fast food industry spent $4.2 billion on marketing in 2009! What a ridiculous number! In an economy where so many families are suffering, it seems that the fast food industry is still booming. Out of that $4.2 billion budget, approximately $1.6 billion of it is used to market directly to children, according to Philpott.

While I personally find this type of budget and marketing of fast food disgusting (sincerely my personal opinion), they are doing something right. They tend to target African-American and Hispanic families. They know their customers, they know how to target specific types of customers, they know where to place the advertisements, and they know how to get the best ROI for their money.

While there are a slew of issues surrounding fast food and obesity (especially in children), I have to give them a thumbs up for knowing how to market their business in an economy that is suffering.

Do you think that the fast food industry is effective in their marketing techniques? What other businesses market and advertise in this manner?


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