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KFC: One more place to hang out

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When you think KFC, don’t think just fried chicken and on the go food like burgers and wraps. Instead, think of it as a place to take a break from work and enjoy a ‘time-out’. Or at least that’s what the brass in India would like us to think.

The quick service restaurant (QSR) chain has moved away from promoting its ‘finger licking’ food offerings for the first time and is focusing instead on positioning itself as a place to hang out in its recently launched brand campaign. Reason: for Indians, eating out is not just about the food. It is also about catching up with friends and family, says Sandeep Kataria, CMO, Yum! Restaurants India, part of US-based Yum! Brands that owns the KFC chain.

For many, the timing of KFC’s strategic shift of sorts may be ideal. According to a report by Maple Capital Advisors, the middle class which is the largest patron of the food service industry is expected to grow by 67 per cent by 2015, providing ample impetus to the growth of QSR space. Little wonder, the chain with 160 outlets pan-India currently (of these 60 were opened last year alone) plans to expand its footprint to 500 by 2015.

The recent television commercial, created by O&M, revolves around a young executive, too caught up with work to take a break. The ad goes on to show how the people around him help him get to a KFC outlet to unwind. “Food communication typically has enticing food shots. But here, the effort was to bring alive the KFC experience that extends beyond just food,” says Ajay Gahlaut, executive creative director, O&M, Delhi.

Yum! Restaurants is also engaging consumers via the digital media (Facebook; asking consumers to design KFC buckets and win prizes) and radio (consumers can call and nominate friends bogged down by work and win free meals at KFC). To make KFC a top-of-the-list hang out joint for young consumers, the company also plans to introduce Radio KFC, a branded channel that will play a mix of international music at the KFC outlets. As per Kataria, the music played will be chosen to match the timing of the day and, by default, the mood of the consumers walking in. The initiative is currently in the roll-out stage.

Besides overhauling the overall KFC experience, the company is also investing in services like home delivery. “We are encouraging our franchises all over India to start home deliveries. However, there are a few logistical issues in providing home deliveries as the food must be delivered fresh and hot to the consumer's doorstep, and there should be no compromise in food quality. Keeping this in mind, it may not be possible for each outlet to provide home deliveries,” says Kataria.

The Yum! Brands brass has gone on record saying it will replicate the China model for growth in India. KFC accounts for almost 80 per cent of the company’s 4,000-odd outlets in China, which contribute a third of Yum’s global revenue.

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