Academic Week 2: Idea Development (II)

Learning Activities: Question 2

Use the Internet to research the history of the fast food chain McDonald’s and explain which parts of the SCAMPER model are evident in its development onto its current success.


SCAMPER model, as the below figure indicates, is a tool that helps to ignite designers’ creativity and support individuals overcome challenge they might be facing in the business. Each letter in the acronym represents a different way that designers could alter their perception and further solve the problems.

Figure 1: SCAMPER Model

图片 1


 Using fast food chain McDonald’s as an example, SCAMPER elements are evident in the brand’s success. In particular, “substitute” from the model refers to think about replacing part of the problem, product or process with something else. By looking for replacements, McDonald’s often comes up with new development ideas, business places, producing procedures, employees, and products. For example, from the start of business until now, McDonald’s logo has been changed and modified over decades (seen figure 2), until the giant “M” was eventually chosen because it is simple but efficiently differentiates the company’s brand from other similar competitor. In other words, through looking for substitutes, McDonald’s finally developed its symbolic logo to successful represent the entire brand today.

 Figure 2: Evaluation of McDonald’s Logo


“Combine” from SCAMPER suggests a way to combing two or more parts of ideas/sources/goods/services to create something new. A “Happy Meal” is a success story of McDonald’s which tried to use ‘combine’ strategy to create a product line. The “Happy Meal” is a form kids’ meal sold by the company since June 1979. The meal is served together with a girl’s or boy’s toy, both of which are usually part of marketing tie-in to an existing television show, film, or toy brand. Combining a free toy within the meal menu or adding a playground in restaurants helped McDonald’s to become a child-friendly brand and further to attract new customers.

Figure 2: Examples of Toys in McDonald’s Happy Meal



“Adapt” in SCAMPER method asks designers to copy, borrow or steal existing idea to solve the problem. In McDonald’s case, their “drive-through” service efficiently helps the company to strengthen its fast-service image. However, such an idea is not innovative. It has been successfully adopted by other business or industries, the Grand National Bank for example in 1930, as the first recorded use of drive-up window.

The next element is “magnify” or “modify”. International expanding requires McDonald’s to regular evaluate and modify their products lines based on local preference, cultures, and regulation in order to keep the company’s competitive strengths. As figure 3 indicates, McDonald’s provides regionalized versions of its menu among and within different countries. For instance, customers find green tea flavored milkshakes and burgers with rice patties in McDonald’s in Japan and China because of local preference, while they can never find beef and pork products in India market because of domestic religious beliefs. It is important to mention that elements in SCAMPER are generally co-existence and co-essential. As McDonald’s case demonstrates, in order to “adapt” the clients’ growing needs for healthier food, the company “modify” its menu by replacing (“substitute”) less nutritional options with more fruits and vegetables.

Figure 3: Modification of Products in McDonald’s over Countries



Put-to-other-uses in SCAMPER is protective. It encourages to put current ideas or products to other uses, or think of what could reuse from somewhere else in order to solve the facing problem. Ray Kroc did not only build MacDonald’s as fast food empire but also real estate tycoon. Through MacDonald’s real estate policy—buying and selling the hot properties and collecting rents on each of its franchised location its franchisees—the company not only takes a percentage of each shop’s gross sales but also gains a more regular income through real estate business over thousands locations worldwide. Similarly, McDonald’s has been always proud of its high quality coffee served in stores. In order to further expand the company’s café offerings without the adverse effect of complicating its fast-food menu, McDonald launched its new chain/subsidiary in 1997, McCafé, which helps the company enter the luxury coffee market over the world.

“Eliminate” in SCAMPER emphasizes to reduce or minimize components of the idea or product. Through such process, it encourages to narrow down the challenge in order to better address the most important issue. As known, since the launch of “Speeded Service System” back 1948, McDonald’s has always tried to promise a quick customer service. However, steadily increasing product offerings in Macdonald’s have led to a bloated menu, sprawling supply chains, low order turn-around times, rising costs, dissatisfied customers, and eventually declining profit. In order to speed up customer service again, especially in today’s fast-paced society, in 2016, McDonald’s decided to simplify its menu, supply chain, and franchise layout in order to decrease the operation cost and increase the feasibility and customer satisfaction (Steve Easterbrrok, CEO of McDonald’s, 2016).

The last principle of SCAMPER is “rearrange” which highlights the possibility of thinking in a different or reverse order to delivery an idea or product. For McDonald’s, the selling strategy of paying first and eating later is a typical example of use of “rearrange”.


Reference (2016) Innovation tools: Scamper method, retrieved from:أدوات-الابتكار/scamper-method (2016) Toys, retrieved from: (2016) McDonalds and cultural adaptation, retrieved from: (2014), McDonald’s logo evolution from 1940 to 2006, retrieved from:

Mcdonald’s (2016) About us, retrieved from:

Steve Easterbrook (2016) McDonald’s: Let’s get back to basics, Retrieved from:




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