June 13, 2013
McDonald’s happy image and its golden arches aren’t the gateway to bliss in Bolivia. This South American country isn’t falling for the barrage of advertising and fast food cooking methods that so easily engulf countries like the United States. Bolivians simply don’t trust food prepared in such little time. The quick and easy, mass production method of fast food actually turns Bolivians off altogether. Sixty percent of Bolivians are an indigenous population who generally don’t find it worth their health or money to step foot in a McDonald’s. Despite its economically friendly fast food prices, McDonald’s couldn’t coax enough of the indigenous population of Bolivia to eat their BigMacs, McNuggets or McRibs.
One indigenous woman, Esther Choque, waiting for a bus to arrive outside a McDonald’s restaurant, said, “The closest I ever came was one day when a rain shower fell and I climbed the steps to keep dry by the door. Then they came out and shooed me away. They said I was dirtying the place. Why would I care if McDonald’s leaves [Bolivia]?”
Fast food chain remained for a decade, despite losses every year
The eight remaining McDonald’s fast food shops that stuck it out in the Bolivian city’s of La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, had reportedly operated on losses every year for a decade. The McDonald’s franchise had been persistent over that time, flexing its franchise’s deep pockets to continue business in Bolivia.
Any small business operating in the red for that long would have folded and left the area in less than half that time. Even as persistent as McDonald’s was in gaining influence there, it couldn’t continue operating in the red. After 14 years of presence in the country, their extensive network couldn’t hold up the Bolivian chain. Store after store shut down as Bolivia rejected the McDonald’s fast food agenda. Soon enough, they kissed the last McDonald’s goodbye.
Deep cultural rejection
The McDonald’s impact and its departure from Bolivia was so lasting and important, that marketing managers immediately filmed a documentary called, “Why McDonalds’s went broke in Bolivia.”
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