Localization Helped KFC Become a Global Sensation
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Big companies are looking for more ways to connect with their customers on a global level. The consumerism culture and globalization open up loads of opportunities for fast food companies to expand their brands to foreign markets. Leading companies are adopting more efficient approaches to brand and sell their products in the international markets. Brand localization has proved an ideal method when it comes to expanding your business to the global markets. When we talk about international brand localization, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) is a good example with 22000+ locations globally. It is one of the leading fast-food chains, targeting multicultural markets around the world. The company has adopted a local-focused approach to make its brand blend with the cultures of the local audiences. Now the question here is, how is KFC doing it? When it comes to food, people around the globe have different taste buds. So, what makes KFC immensely successful and a go-to fast food point for billions.  Is it just their amazing fried chicken flavor with a perfect crisp, or something else that makes KFC sensational? This article is a case study of KFC’s localization strategy, where we’ll be discussing how KFC is taking over the world.

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KFC – A Localization Case Study

KFC is taking an effective approach to developing and deploying a global localization strategy. In this intense competition, KFC has become successful in making its place and appealing to local customers. The global marketing strategy of a company defines how it is going to promote its brand globally and which distribution channels will be used. When it comes to KFC, it has a separate marketing strategy for every region that is made specifically for the interests and preferences of the population. Localization is the major part of KFC’s global marketing strategy. The company has always believed in connecting with its audiences and making its brand resonate with the cultural nuances and social norms of a particular area.
  • Diversified Menus

For every region in the world, KFC has modified its menus and recipes based on local taste preferences. For instance, you’ll find fried vegetable strips with no chicken only in India. Considering the fact that the majority of the population in India is vegetarian, KFC focused more on plant-based food by keeping 30% of their menu vegetarian. In Australia, KFC serves Nacho boxes, which contain tortilla chips, salsa, and cheese. Similarly, only in Thailand, they have the green curry chicken rice bowl on their menus. KFC has entirely modified its menus to different food cultures that make its brand look more native. Just to make it clear, they are not randomly choosing the menus, assuming traditional flavors would get their brand ahead. There are eighteen teams responsible for the food innovation, and menus of KFC. They have to create recipes that are not just well versed with the local taste, but also keep their “KFC-thing” alive. It is important for the team to strictly follow the KFC standards while playing around with different flavors and recipes. So, they’re picking the cultural food preferences and making it their own by adding unique flavors – to make it feel more like KFC.  Some countries’ menus are larger than the United States. For example, in China, there are 50 items on the menu, whereas the United States has only 20. Moreover, the taste of KFC in China is also quite different because of regional tastes. If you’re from the USA, you might have never heard about congee and porridge; which are the best-selling KFC items in China.
  • High-Quality Translations

Global companies focus on on-brand writing to grab the attention of more customers. In markets like China, it is more about on-brand translations. Talking of China, localization and translation are essential to enter this market. So, there you’ll find all the menus translated into the Chinese language. Knowing the fact that Chinese people don’t understand foreign languages, it is also not cool to be a foreigner in this region. Not just in China, KFC is now adopting translation as a marketing tool to better connect with its audiences. When it comes to localization, translating the content to the native language of customers is the most important thing. It does not just make your brand look more local but also enhances its visibility among targeted audiences. While doing translation, companies have to be careful because wrong translations are not just hilarious but can cause cultural offense. KFC had also made such mistakes in the past while entering into the Beijing market when they translated their slogan “Finger-lickin good” to “Eat your fingers off”. Such mistakes are enough to fail your brand, but fortunately, they didn’t harm KFC that bad. After that, the company has become super conscious about their translations and never made another mistake like that.
  • Building Brand Perception

As far as global business expansion is concerned, the most critical aspect of globalization is to build a strong brand perception among target customers. Localization also aims to help a brand connect with audiences by building a positive image. Having a good brand perception not just appeals to more customers, but also makes your existing customers return back to you more often. Being a leading player in the fast-food industry, KFC is acing its brand perception-building game. The localization strategy of KFC has been so successful that most of the customers globally still believe that it is a local business. KFC always keeps the preferences of locales their top priority to keep their food connected with the culture and other customs of a country. They never assume that customers from all around the world would love their standard American fast-food taste. So, whether it is the menu list or the marketing distribution channels that the company is using for the promotions of the brand, everything is localized to create a more personalized experience for the local customers.
  • Co-existing with Competitors

When your competitors are too huge, rather than beating them off, the better plan would be to co-exist with them. In the case of KFC, the competitors are McDonald’s and Burger King. The amazing food, excellent logistics, and its efforts to ensure food safety help KFC keep going in such intense competition. Considering the eating habits of locals, KFC has made some modifications to their menus and gradually made their place in the market. The smart localization and globalization strategy have made it possible for KFC to co-exist with the other big brands. KFC also has a competitive advantage for the supply chain and distribution channels. All of this allows them to make good relations with other business partners. Moreover, they stand for chicken, and they’re quite clear on this. There is not very much pressure coming from substitutes because generally people like chicken more than any other meat. So, the overall competition from the existing company is moderate, and it is not much affecting the KFC business because of the large market size.
  • Ownership over Franchising

Under their localization strategy, KFC came with the notion of ownership and rejected completely franchising their restaurants. This makes them quite different from their top competitor McDonald’s. The company believes that having ownership empowers its foreign business partners and gives them more control. The ownership of their fast-food chain gave more freedom to the company to choose their menu, décor, and overall design of the restaurants. Doing this also gives the company more control over their business operations, and they can effectively manage the day-to-day processes. KFC has designed its control mechanisms in a way that helps them ensure a certain level of cleanliness and hygiene in their restaurants. This also helps the company build a positive image of the brand as a hygienic restaurant.
  • Clothing Their Brand as Native

KFC has always been concerned about localizing the brand and presenting it as if it’s a local restaurant. Just the way people wear local costumes to connect with locals. It gave KFC’s targeted audiences a strong sense of belonging towards their brand. The marketing campaigns and localizing strategies of KFC are centered around local cultures and social norms. So, understanding the hot culture and other social elements is critical for the company to design their advertisements that would influence the targeted groups. Sometimes when you use the same advertisement for different cultures, its interpretation can change, and you never know if your customers are getting the wrong messages. That’s why KFC is concerned about culture-friendly ads. When it comes to modifying and creating ads for different cultures, it’s not just about translating the text. The company carefully chooses the themes and designs of the advertisement. The ads are designed considering all cultural characteristics and audiences’ preferences. Not every culture is the same. Some cultures are more challenging than others. For instance, KFC had a hard time launching their restaurants in the Chinese market. Chinese people have quite capacious taste buds and they are also very choosy when it comes to food and dining experience. When KFC first came to China, it was very fascinating for Chinese people because they were never exposed to the western lifestyle. Moreover, KFC deals in chicken that further conforms to the food preferences of Chinese people who prefer chicken over beef.
  • Excellent Customers Services

Customer experience is everything, and KFC strongly believes in this notion. They are dedicated to excellence and constantly offer quality services and the best food to the customers. 85% of their customers are satisfied with their services and liked the staff’s behavior throughout their presence in the restaurant. From providing their customer with a hygienic environment to getting their order ready in minimal time, KFC is offering the best experience to their customer. KFC focuses on improving their customer service; for this, they have well-trained employees in their restaurant chains around the world.  They teach their restaurant staff how to behave with the customer and make them learn people skills to better serve the customer with compassion and care. KFC also pays attention to food safety and prioritizes customer service to make the dining experience pleasant for the customers. Moreover, they provide home delivery services to allow their customers to enjoy restaurant meals at the comfort of their homes.

Final Words!

Undoubtedly, KFC has mastered the art of localization that helped them throughout their brand globalization journey. The company’s understanding of diversified cultures and incorporating those cultural values in the marketing campaigns enables them to make its place in foreign markets. Even in rigid markets like China, which does not seem easy for foreign businesses, have accepted KFC. Not just because of its delicious menu but also the customer service, food safety, hygiene, etc. KFC is, indeed, a great example for businesses that want to expand globally and enhance their customer base to the international markets.
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