McDonald’s Loss Could Be Supermarkets’ Gain

The Lempert Report
May 20, 2017

Have you noticed that those McDonald’s “playplaces” seem to be disappearing?

One could argue that with playstations, Xboxes and iPads, kids today would rather play those games than slide down a ladder or climb. And couple that with a report from Technomic, the food-service research and consulting firm, families with kids going to McDonald’s fell from 18.6 percent in 2011 to 14.6 percent in 2014. Darren Tristano, president of Technomic, says that “Brands like Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s, who have indoor play places — we’re not necessarily seeing them expanding and, in some cases, when stores are being rebuilt, they’re no longer including these play places.” 

Paige Johnson a playground advocate and historian who heads the blog Playscapes told eater that Pokémon Go is an example of playtime today: an individualized experience without geographic boundaries. “That’s the direction that play is heading,” she says. “Not just as an experience that’s divorced from any location, but also an experience that resides with the player and is individualized for the player. And the question is, how does any static playground, whether that’s a community playground or fast-food playground, compete with that experience or conform to new expectations of what play is?” 

Back to supermarkets. 

There is little doubt that parents and kids alike want what we call edu-tainment. Education and entertainment combined. Why shouldn’t supermarkets be building edu-tainment centers instead of playgrounds for kids where they can learn about foods, where they come from and how they taste. Kroger debuted childcare centers in their stores decades ago where parents could leave their children with qualified personnel while they shopped at leisure. Why not take this idea a step further and create these centers for slightly older kids – say up to age 8 or 9 and outfit them with the latest technology and bring in various department heads to entertain and educate? The butcher, the baker, the fish monger and build a relationship with our future customers and at the same time enhance their food knowledge.