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Standardization/Flexibility…. Internationally February 8, 2007

Posted by Abby in Business-Society Issues, Consumers, Organizational Environment.

So I got to thinking about what we were talking about in class: certain companies make certain changes with their franchises based on location. In living in various countries internationally, I thought I’d post on some of my experience.

McDonalds: In China, McDonalds actually has ‘Sweet & Sour’ sauce for your chicken nuggets, but no barbeque sauce.

Coca Cola: In South Africa, coke is served with a lemon or lime; when ordering in a restaurant you need to request they leave it out if you don’t want it. In China, coke is much less fizzy, and the carmel-sugar taste is emphasized.

Ketchup: Interestingly enough, even ketchup is different! I don’t remember exact countries, but there is a lot of variations: more fruity; more salty; close to barbeque sauce, spicy, more jelly texture…etc In the Philippines, they generally prefer ketchup with added banana flavoring.

Something else that happens within franchises is miscommunication. I don’t know if KFC also has a 900 page or so instruction manual on how to cook, but I know that in China, the traditional way they cook chicken is a little more… soggy? And the American ‘crunchy’ taste becomes overpowered with spices. If every step isn’t described in detail, how are they to know when its ‘done’?

One little anecdote that I’ll offer here, is about when one US Embassy was built in Beijing. Asian toilets are different in design and utilization than a Western toilet. Believe it or not, VERY different. (I’ll try and find a picture). An Asian toilet (most common in Japan and China) is actually sunk into the ground, and the user must squat over it. Our Western toilet has a seat – to ease the awkwardness, I suppose.

.Japanese toilet

When it came to installing the toilets, the American contractor didn’t think to explain to the Chinese plumber about something as basic as a toilet… But he should have, because when he came to check on his work – everything was buried. The tank, the bowl… all that was left was the toiletseat itself on the floor!



1. Janine - February 12, 2007

You know, it is interesting how different menu items, toilets, etc. can be constructed differently when in a foreign country. Yes, it is true. I have noticed myself when I have been overseas that there are in fact differenences. Differences in food, food texture, taste, toilets structure. Yet, while we should be able to accept cultural differences for what they are, shouldn’t we expect from major organizations like Burger King or McDonald’s, to pick on them for a little, to be morev consistant. I know I would like to go to McDonald’s overseas and have the option to have BBQ sauce with my chicken nuggets. I do not discredit the sweet and sour option, but is it really too much to have both, for the sake of consistency and standardization? Would it cost the organization much more to supply international franchises with both choices? I think the name of the game is to recognize the differences, recognize the varying tastes, recognize the differing standards, yet try to accomodate both. Maybe that’s too idealized? Maybe not?

2. Elaine - February 12, 2007

That is an interesting post. I have never paid attention to such detail, but I shall definitely keep that in mind the next time I’m in a foreign area!

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