KFC China Goes Its Own Way

The Harvard Business School has taken a look at the U.S. fast-food chain KFC’s success in China where it has become the largest such chain in the country by not being much like its U.S. counterpart. Authors Professor David Bell and his colleague Mary Shelman, identify four key reasons for KFC’s success:

  • In China, KFC’s strategy was to be part of the local community, not be seen as a foreign presence.
  • China division chairman and CEO Sam Su combined the best ideas from the US fast-food model and adapted them to serve the needs of the Chinese consumer.
  • Only a small number of menu items would be familiar to Western visitors—the Chinese KFC offerings include fried dough sticks, egg tarts, and foods tailored to the tastes of specific regions within the country.
  • To counter concerns about fast food and obesity, Su offered a healthier menu and supports exercise and youth events.

Think local, act local.

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