This blog entry is part of a series that focuses on individual brands that have succeeded in expanding globally by embracing localization. Localization is the process of adapting your service or product to the language and culture of the market you're selling into. This includes translation and cultural considerations on a foundational level, but may also require significant adaptations to your service or product on the highest level depending on the market. As you'll see here the range of localization considerations varied widely for KFC depending on the target market (from basic menu changes to religious considerations).
KFC, a fried chicken fast-food chain with more than 24,000 outlets in 145 countries and territories, is well known for its successful localization strategies when entering new markets. Here are some examples of how KFC has mastered localization to meet the needs and preferences of different markets.
When KFC entered the Indian market, they faced the challenge of serving a predominantly vegetarian population. KFC introduced a separate menu featuring vegetarian options such as the "Veg Zinger" burger, made with a spicy vegetable patty, Veg Rice Bowl, and Veg Strips to cater to local dietary preferences.
Spice Level Customization
Indian cuisine is known for its rich and spicy flavors. To cater to Indian taste preferences, KFC allows customers to customize the spice level of their food. They offer options like Hot & Spicy, Spicy, and Regular for all menu items.
KFC has incorporated regional flavors into its menu to appeal to its large and diverse customer base. For example, they introduced the "Chicken Zinger Hyderabad" burger, inspired by the famous Hyderabadi biryani. This localized offering showcased KFC's efforts of adapting its menu to reflect regional culinary preferences.
In order to ensure that their vegetarian offerings met both the dietary and religious requirements of Indian consumers, KFC obtained vegetarian and halal certifications from recognized Indian organizations. This helped build trust among customers who adhere to vegetarianism for religious, cultural, or personal reasons.
Source: NY Times
KFC recognized the need to adapt its offerings to suit Chinese tastes by introducing unique menu items that incorporated elements of Chinese cuisine while maintaining KFC’s core identity. For example, they launched the Dragon Twister, which is a wrap with Peking duck sauce, the Chizza, a pizza with fried chicken as the crust, congee (a rice porridge), egg tarts, and soy milk, which is a common Chinese breakfast choice. Additionally, KFC modified its famous fried chicken recipe to incorporate spices and flavors typically found in most Chinese cuisine.
Embracing Chinese Festivals
KFC has successfully embraced Chinese festivals and cultural traditions as part of its localization strategy. During Chinese New Year, KFC introduced special limited-time menu items and promotions that are specifically tailored for the festive season. They also incorporate traditional symbols and decorations associated with the festival in their restaurant decor and packaging.
Unique Store Designs
KFC has adopted unique store designs in China to appeal to and create a distinct cultural ambiance. Some KFC restaurants in China feature modern architectural elements combined with traditional Chinese aesthetics, creating an environment that resonates with Chinese consumers and provides a unique dining experience.
KFC has capitalized on the unique Japanese tradition of having KFC as a popular meal during Christmas. In the 1970s, KFC launched a successful marketing campaign promoting fried chicken as a "Christmas feast," which struck a chord with the Japanese audience. Since then, KFC has made Christmas a significant part of its brand in Japan, offering special Christmas-themed buckets and promoting pre-ordering for the holiday season.
KFC Japan has introduced menu items specifically tailored to Japanese tastes. For example, they have incorporated Japanese flavors and ingredients into their offerings, such as teriyaki sauce, wasabi, and soy sauce. They also offer rice-based meals and sides like corn soup, which are popular in Japan.
KFC Japan regularly introduces limited-time menu items that cater to seasonal and cultural events. For instance, during cherry blossom season, they might offer sakura-flavored chicken or cherry blossom-themed packaging. Similarly, they introduce spicy chicken during the summer months when spicy foods are more popular.
KFC is a Case Study of Successful Localization
These examples demonstrate how KFC has successfully localized its menu, marketing, and brand positioning to resonate with consumers in various regions, acknowledging cultural, religious, and taste preferences. If you're interested in learning how you can better adapt your translation and localization process to achieve success in global markets contact us today.