Modern fast food in Rabat offers customers a polar opposite experience from the bustle of the medina. Restaurants give way for budding teenagers couples and cheerful families. Greasy aromas of “McNuggets” and “Big Macs” compete for space in an atmosphere of anticipation, where the wait can take up to 15 minutes. However, customers will also find food triple the price.
“It’s the culture.” states 33-year-old local chef, Hicham Radi. “The rich people go to famous places like McDonalds”
According to the World Bank, the average Moroccan family can be identified as lower middle income. With food ranging from 1-20 Moroccan Dirhams, 1/8 the worth of the American dollar, a satisfying meal can be found for under $3.00. However, with many food options available amongst the plethora of cafes, food stands, and markets McDonalds, with burgers costing up to 60 Dirhams, still remains a popular alternative.
It is more than the taste and convenience that draws in the daily crowd of anxious customers. Class representation also attributes to its popular appeal.
“You’re my neighbor and you see me going to McDonalds.So you want to go to McDonalds” describes Hicham.
As identified in its 2012 Annual Report, McDonalds Corporation’s “Plan to Win” strategy works to provide excellent customer, providing not only the food customers crave, but also the lifestyle. In addition to the common “Big Macs and Fries”, Moroccan McDonalds also features “French-inspired” options, such as the McBaugette and croquettes . French is a sign of the educated and elite and McDonalds Corporation has turned into using status into a business strategy. Steering away from embracing ethnically and culturally Moroccan dishes, class-targeted appeals have proven a significant profit-maker. Since McDonalds first opened franchise locations in Morocco 20 years ago, it has increased to 30 locations, surpassing $5.1 billion in non-US sales.
It’s class contrast to American restaurants is a clear distinction. In the U.S., one can find this “go-to” fast food chain littered frequently among the streets of low-income neighborhoods, offering cheap prices for relatively unhealthy food, but in Rabat there remains a different target audience.
With wealth gaps prevalent in Moroccan society, the desire for upward mobility adds to the infatuation with the “Golden Arches.” The assumption is that the United States offers better quality. According to Hisham, “The products in the USA are better than here.”