KFC: Feeding the world's biggest population
At Alltech's Annual Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, Joaquin Pelaez, Senior VP for Product Excellence at Yum! Brands, Inc. told the audience how Kentucky Fried Chicken has become the most recognizable brand in China.
KFC’s position in China goes beyond market share, and according to Pelaez, Chinese consumers love the brand and in general prefer western brands because they are highly trusted. KFC has focused on building that trust with a total commitment to food safety and publicizing that commitment. In the US, food safety is taken for granted, but in China food safety has been a major point of the KFC China marketing message. They absolutely guarantee that all of their products are safe.
KFC’s parent company, Yum Brands! split off from Pepsico in 1997. At that time they set a goal to become the best restaurant company in the world. They have reportedly dominated the Chinese market, but they have not done it by introducing the exact same concepts that were developed in the US.
Pelaez described many ways that KFC had localised their products and stores to appeal to the Chinese consumer. They typically introduce 120 new products per year. In addition to chicken they serve beef, shrimp and pork. Flavors, sauces and spices are designed to appeal to the Chinese appetite. For breakfast they offer congee (purple rice) that comes in several flavors as well as fried dough sticks that are dipped in soy milk. Desert items include egg tarts inspired by a Macao favorite that was introduced by the Portuguese.
KFC stores in China blend in with the local architecture and design as do the advertising and marketing materials, Pelaez continues. Customers are fully aware that KFC is a foreign company but Pelaez believes they feel a bond with the brand. KFC is currently building 500 new stores a year.
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