Pi Attitude Zone: Flexibility

KFC Adapts to Africa …Again and Again

Pi-Charting the populations of different countries shows, again and again, how diverse national cultures can turn out to be.  The previous Pi blogpost on McDonalds in France [How “MacDo” Put the French into French Fries] shows how far a brand formula can move from the norms in its country of origin, and how the brand can profit from that flexibility.

One more current example of local adaptation comes from another fast-food brand, KFC.  The chain formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken has given the marketing world another example of the superiority of global adaptability over down-home policies and “sticking with what you know”.  KFC is repeatedly changing its menu offering as it spreads through the African continent, and is doing remarkably well as a result.

By 2012, the chain had established outlets in ten African countries, from Kenya to Angola and Botswana.  One of the things the company learned along the way is that the continent’s local cultures and cuisines can vary significantly. 

Bruce Layzell, KFC general manager for new African markets, has pointed out that "A Zambian is as different to a Nigerian as an Italian is different from a Russian”.  (Actually, Pi-Charts comparing Italians and Russians show as many similarities as differences, but that’s another story.  We’ll get to that in a future Pi blogpost…)

Not only has KFC adapted its advertising to each new African country, but the product itself.  In its Nigerian outlets you’ll find chicken sold with Jollof Rice, a staple local dish whose basic ingredients are rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, salt, and red pepper.  Kenyan customers wanting their Ugali, a cornmeal dish cooked with water into a kind of porridge, are not left disappointed. 

The fact of including favorite local dishes enormously increases the popularity of an otherwise visibly foreign brand.  “We love America”, say happy diners, “and they seem to love us too”.

The prize for getting the marketing right is worth a little flexibility to reflect cultural diversity.  The Nigerian market is 160 million strong.  Add in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania, and we’re talking about a third of a billion consumers.

So what will you be having with your chicken, madam?

Zone: Flexibility Country: Middle East / Africa Product – Consumer Products