The following essay addresses the question “what makes fast food restaurants so successful?” In particular, it analyzes the various aspects of fast food chains that make them so appealing, from the aggressive marketing and wide accessibility, to the somewhat addictive nature of their foods. Basically, the essay demonstrates what has led fast food restaurants to occupy such an important niche on the market and in people’s minds, despite the fact that everybody knows how unhealthy fast food is.
To begin with, fast food restaurants sell one the concept of “quick pleasure.” Indeed, everything is prepared so quickly that one barely has the time to notice. Within seconds of the order being made the food is placed on one’s tray. This food offers one immediate gratification in ways that are quite unhealthy. The thing is that fast food consists mostly of processed, sugary, and fried foods. It is as far from “natural” as it could possibly be. There are numerous additives in these foods that make them truly addictive. The more fast food one eats, the more one craves. It is a self-perpetuating cycle and a very unhealthy one too. Thus, fast food chains give their clients the chance of quick and immediate gratification, right on the spot.
Yet another point that should not be overlooked is marketing. Despite the fact that fast food chains are so unhealthy (and everybody knows that), they rely on aggressive marketing strategies that help them sell their services and products. Their advertisements may at times be so “innocent” that one actually starts to forget the truth that stands behind all these “shiny” songs, images, and catchy phrases. The human psyche is structured in such a way that when it encounters new information it tries to immediately evaluate it based on existing knowledge. It weighs the new piece of information against that which is already known. If this information contradicts what one believes in, the person will most probably reject this new data. When it comes to fast food chains, they have come to occupy a place in people’s minds that was prior free of any influence or prior convictions. When McDonalds and other fast food chains came into the picture, they sought to convince Americans that fast food was the “magic answer” or “magic pill.” It would curb hunger, and cravings, and offer one immediate gratification/pleasure. At the time, little was spoken of the unhealthiness or damage of fast food. So these messages occupied a free space in people’s minds, leading people to think that fast food was not an enemy, but rather a friend.
Here, it is essential to note that the idea of a healthy lifestyle and healthy living is a relatively new one. It can actually be perceived as a kind of response to the fast food tendencies that have gained such popularity over the past couple decades. Had the public been informed prior about the dangers of fast food, it is doubtful that any of the marketing and advertising campaigns launched by the fast food chains would have actually worked. Today, people and governments are becoming more aware of the fact that fast food is terrible for one’s health. Rising rates of chronic illness have led Americans to start searching for the answer: what is it that makes people so ill? The response to this question was not hard to find. Sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, stress, and some other factors are to blame.
Surprisingly, despite all this, despite the knowledge that has been spreading over the past decade or two about the dangers of fast food and unhealthy eating habits, people still continue to eat fast food. How so? First and foremost, it is so difficult to give up fast food for three reasons: habit, taste, and delayed damage. Second, the wide accessibility of fast food chains makes them an appealing answer to satisfying one’s appetite. Each of the points are to be more fully explained below. As it was mentioned, habit comes first. This is true, when one gets used to satisfying her hunger by eating fast food, it no longer seems like something that is “bad” or a habit that should be given up. Mostly so, because one does not grow overweight and unhealthy overnight. This is a process that takes time. Much time, in fact. The gradual changes in one’s body shape and physical health may go unnoticed to the eye. Especially, if one is not attentive to her bodily signals (such as feeling worse after eating junk food and gaining weight at rather quick rates).
What is more, fast food has that “special” taste that makes one crave it more. It is not that it is so ultimately tasty, since when one transitions to healthy and fresh foods, she will stop craving fast food (a proven fact), yet it is the additives that make these fast food meals so scrumptious. When the habit of consuming fast food is reinforced over and over again, this taste becomes so familiar that one may feel it impossible to give up junk food. Finally, the proximity of fast food restaurants makes them an easy answer. Fast food chains can be found in basically any American neighborhood today. What can be easier than walking into one of these restaurants and ordering a hamburger when one is hungry? Certainly, this seems like the best possible solution, especially, if one is unaware of the damage that these eating habits are causing him/her.
Summing up, fast food chains rely on various techniques and approaches that make them so successful and lead them to occupy an important place in people’s minds. They are accessible, they have excellent communication strategies used to convince people to buy their products, and they sell foods that are, in a way, addictive. Without an equally aggressive strategy that promotes healthy living, it is difficult to imagine how fast food will ever lose its grip.
- Guberti, M. (2014, February 26). Why fast food restaurants are successful. Marc Guberti. Retrieved from https://marcguberti.com/2014/02/fast-food-restaurants-successful/