Can Luxury Learn From McDonald’s Viral Cat House?

What Happened: McDonald’s is driving pet owners crazy in China. Recently, throngs have been flocking to the fast food giant to order their new combo meal — a spicy chicken fillet burger, chicken nuggets, fries, and a coke — which comes packaged in a limited edition (only 100,000 available) “Cat Box.” Shaped like an iconic McDonald’s burger, the package, which comes with a pop open doorway, is large enough for an actual cat to easily enter and play in (or at least, lick the walls). And it’s been a sensation, selling out in all major cities since launching. It’s also proved to be a successful marketing campaign, reaching well beyond the 100,000 lucky buyers. On Weibo, for example, the hashtag #McDonald’s Cat House (#麦当劳猫窝) has gained more than 130 million views thus far. Not bad for a mobile, cardboard box built for a cat.  

McDonald’s new combo meal in China comes with a foldable box for cats. Photo: Weibo

The Jing Take: It’s not surprising that McDonald’s Cat Boxes went viral. As young citizens look to help ease the loneliness from China’s growing singlehood trend, dog and cat ownership has increased by 300 percent since 2013 and the domestic pet market is expected to reach $66.8 billion by 2023, according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan. 

Clearly, pet pampering is becoming a key trend driving Gen Z attention, suggesting, perhaps, a substantial untapped opportunity for luxury brands. While most Maisons have been busy creating various pet accessories, maybe a broader animal-oriented mindset is needed. From matching pet-parent outfits to pet-friendly boutiques, initiatives like these could help high-end brands recruit well-off animal owners to not only purchase an item or two for their four-legged friends, but also for themselves. 

Moreover, having an animal as an ambassador could be another bright spot. Given the amount of celebrity brand ambassador mishaps for global luxury brands, working with an adorable, cuddly creature could offer an inviting, stable, and safe tie-up for companies.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.