The Real Reason McDonald's Flopped In Vietnam

Back in 2014, McDonald's opened its very first store in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. According to the BBC, it was a big deal: Hundreds of customers showed up at the launch, excited and enthusiastic to try the food at the restaurant. 

The store was opened by the prime minister's son-in-law Henry Nguyen, who had a special connection to McDonald's. He said that his family escaped from the Vietnam war to the U.S., where he grew up. During his time there, he worked part-time at McDonald's as a teenager. And so, he wanted to introduce his home country to the brand. 

Years later, Nguyen managed to launch the first McDonald's outlet in southern Vietnam. There were high expectations from the brand — but sadly, things didn't go according to plan at all. Per CNBC, neither McDonald's nor its competitor Burger King impressed the locals, who still turned to other food options instead.

There were several reasons

According to a Better Marketing piece, Vietnam is not unfamiliar with fast food in general. In fact, they have loads of options. It's fairly easy to get your hands on something like pho or a sandwich quickly, no matter where you are. 

Essentially, locals in Vietnam were not getting access to McDonald's food at a faster pace compared to other establishments. The difference in service speed was not really noticeable. Moreover, the food industry was already thriving in the country in general, meaning McDonald's already had heavy competition even before it started. Furthermore, local food options were also more affordable compared to what was being offered at McDonald's. Thus, it wasn't the most tempting option for locals to turn to when they were dining outside. 

A Vietnamese Redditor said that it's genuinely hard to be successful in such a cutthroat market. They wrote, "McDonalds can't compete with street food which wins in both prices and variety and deliciousness."