“At the time we were the only company doing something like this, and it wasn’t well-received by customers,” says Lai. “This time we’re committed. It’s been a decade and Hongkongers have accepted this idea. Now it’s just for Mondays, but in the long run, my ultimate goal is no straws every day.”
The challenge with this and every change that McDonald’s makes, says Lai, is the sheer number of people it affects each day. “Every day I am serving a million customers from all walks of life, so I want to make sure we’re going at the right pace whenever we introduce something new. Every three months we’ll evaluate the No Straw programme to see if we’re ready to expand it beyond Mondays.”
Also along the lines of sustainability, McCafé has begun selling tumblers and tote bags with pockets that can hold the reusable coffee containers. Lai says the company’s focus has shifted to practical products such as these, while the emphasis on Happy Meal toys and books for kids has lessened.
“We want to do something with more meaning,” she says, showing off lidded cups made in partnership with Japanese brand Rivers. “This cup looks nice but also has practical usage, and we want to encourage people to bring their own cups.”
One aspect about McDonald’s Hong Kong that Lai thinks gets short shrift is its efforts to make foods healthier. Over the years, the company has switched to using sunflower and canola blended oil that’s low in saturated fat, with almost no trans fat, and it’s introduced the option of substituting fries with unseasoned corn for no added cost in Extra Value Meals. “We sold about one million servings of Caesar Salad each year, This leads me to believe McDonald's must be the biggest seller of salad in Hong Kong,” she says. “People don’t think about McDonald’s that way.”