KFC has been in the news over the past month with a slew of marketing activities for its 5-in-1 Meal Box and Chilli Chizza.
The brand that now has 310 stores in India has also changed its strategy in the country over the last year and a half. The brand wants to market what it is known for says CMO, Lluis Ruiz Ribot and that’s why it has pushed marketing efforts around chicken.
But in India, where a large percentage of people are vegetarian, KFC's advertising around chicken could mean that the vegetarians stay out of the restaurants. But Ribot doesn’t believe that’s a worry.
He explains, “Our core target audience would be college-goers and young working adults. KFC is for everyone who is a non-vegetarian. We have very unique chicken which is very craveable. We also have vegetarian products and have a separate segment where these are cooked. However, our focus is on chicken. That’s what we are famous for and what consumers love us for. We acknowledge that in a group of ten not everybody loves chicken and also that not everyone fancies it every day and so we have the vegetarian offerings too. For example the 5-in-one meal box that we launched last year also has a vegetarian offering.”
While KFC has grown at 13 per cent and 16 per cent for the last two quarters respectively, Ribot does believe that there’s still a lot of room to grow for the brand and the Quick Service Restaurant category in the country. “If you look at ours and some of the rest of the players in the market, there is still a lot of room to growth. We have had a good journey over the past two years and an even better last two quarters with double digit sales growth. We are very confident about the future growth and the category growth as well. We are seeing this growth coming from metros and the smaller cities. We are more established in the metros with 60 per cent of our outlets. But, everywhere we open, consumers are excited about our products.”
And KFC’s journey through that growth has been extremely ‘strategic’ informs the Spaniard. He explains, “A couple of years ago, we advertised our entry-priced products through a campaign called ‘Wow’. Now, the focus is away from those entry-level products to the 5-in-1 meal box. We still do have burgers at Rs 35, potato crispers and another product we launched last year at Rs 49. These are very good entry-level products. We also have snacks at Rs. 99. So we have a good range of entry-value products which we haven’t been communicating on TV.”
He adds, “One of the things we are trying to do is, to build everyday value. Couple of years ago we did that through our Wow products. Last year we focused on building it through the 5-in-1 meal box starting at Rs 149. All of our products are important strategically.”
The brand had recently announced the launch of a marketing initiative, the i-Box. While competitors gave out toys with their meals, KFC looked to innovate with a 3D figure of the consumer buying the toy through 3D printing.
On the reaction, Ribot says, “The reaction was extremely positive. Consumers are looking for new experiences. This was a part of our 5-in-1 campaign. Normally a meal box has three components, we have five. Then we wanted to go further and got a limited edition toy, which was very different from a typical collectable. The toy that is a figure of yourself that can be done through 3D printing. We got long queues at the outlet and got consumer engagement.”
And KFC will be looking to continue with these digital initiatives informs Ribot.
“Digital for us is a mindset. To increase sales through online, one of the things we have done is put focus behind this channel. In terms of resources, we have increased the number of stores that deliver and the number of ways we deliver through partnerships with aggregators. We will keep looking at innovative consumer campaigns.”
But Ribot mentions that TV remains an important medium for KFC in terms of investment. "It's because it is most efficient in terms of reach in the country," informs the CMO.
Like many CMOs, Ribot too believes that the biggest challenge is that consumers are continually looking for new experiences.
He explains, “That means that one can never stay still. There need to be product innovations and marketing campaigns. The i-Box and the Chilli Chizza are recent examples of us being on our toes. Consumers are now more informed and better travelled.”
He adds, “Secondly, speed is important from a marketing stand point. A lot of things happen quickly. For the good or bad, news spreads quickly through social media and other channels. Baba Sehgal recently rolled out a rap ‘chicken fried rice’. We took that and improvised. In the old world, people would have debated for pros and cons and then lost the opportunity.”
This summer there is no dearth of ceiling fan brands that are sweating it out during the commercial breaks of the IPL telecast and elsewhere. The author comes up with his own wish list on what fans could do in the future.