12 August 2021

Winnie Kang on Innovation in China and our FastCo Recognition

Winnie Kang is Group Planning Director for Isobar China Group, and Planning / Strategy Lead for Isobar's work for KFC projects, one of Isobar's most award-winning accounts with a Gold Cannes Lions to its name amongst others. Winnie's work and approach was recently recognised by Fast Company, with Isobar being included within the publications 2021 Best Workplaces for Innovator's list.  


What is your most memorable project whilst at Isobar? 


I would like to share two projects that have made a great impact to KFC customer experience transformation.


The God of Rain


How to improve the chaotic delivery experience brought on by rain?


We’ve all been through the same bad experience when making delivery orders on a rainy day. The spike of delivery orders results in the delivery APP delays, wrong deliveries and missed orders etc. and lots of complaints from consumers.


Facing the same problem, KFC in collaboration with Isobar designed brand-new experience strategic plans starting with the launch of a limited edition delivery menu called The God of Rain. Whenever it rained, real-time weather and location data automatically triggered the KFC app to unlock the The God of Rain menu as KFC kitchen employees in that locality stood by to pack and deliver thousands of meals on-time, reducing delays and alleviating pressure on the restaurant chain’s delivery and instore staff.


As an effective long-term strategy, the weather responsive menu streamlines kitchen operations at scale and also eliminates wait times for its customers, and of course less complaints and better customer experience.


Green KFC


Would you go to KFC for panini and salad?


KFC's classic fried chicken has been so irresistible to everyone. However, with people’s dietary culture evolving more diversely, people need more options. How to meet the emerging dietary requirements and bring consumers an innovative dining experience becomes the new task for the brand.


Isobar helped KFC launch its first sub-brand ‘KPRO’ (Green KFC restaurant), which serves the classic fried chicken of KFC, as well as Italian panini and salad as the main menu. The restaurant is designed with the ‘glassroom" concept, allowing consumers to experience a familiar yet fresh KFC brand.


What was the most challenging part of the project?


In our daily routines, we tend to define innovation just as ‘technology innovation’, while ignoring the fact that we should make change and innovate from every perspective of the brand including product, marketing, experience, service, and mechanism, etc.


We have to break through the inherent way of thinking, find the possibility of ‘optimization’ at every touch point between consumers and brands/products to create a better experience empowered by a bold and clear vision. That’s where I found most challenging.


Was the ambition to create something innovative, or did you need to innovate to achieve your ambition?


The latter. Innovation to us is only an approach not an ambition for us. We aim to solve the existing pain points and optimize the customer experience so people can have a better life.


How does Isobar maintain an innovative culture?


Entering my 6th year with the company, I believe that the most tangible expression of 'innovation culture' in Isobar is the culture of 'pursuing excellence'. As long as we keep pursuing excellence, it will keep driving Isobar's continuous innovation.


How did you drive innovation in your team?


I normally don’t think about ‘how to stimulate innovation’, as I shared earlier, innovation is only an approach not an ambition. But I will support my team in particularly in two things.


First, keep passionate. The passion for life, passion for interests, and passion for people. Only if you have passion, you will try every way to find out how to create a better brand experience, and only then will you be willing to go through trial and error many times without getting discouraged.


Second, be fearless! Dare to think, dare to speak, and dare to do! Create a vibe of "nothing is impossible" with the team.


What is your top tip for companies who want to be more innovative?


From my own perspective, the fantastic part of working at Isobar is that there are never any barriers between departments/positions, and we even like to bring our 'business brains', 'strategy brains', 'creative brains' and 'tech brains' that we are good at to solve our common problems. Such a working model allows Isobar's projects to operate not only with agility, but also often result in surprising innovative solutions.


In the ancient Chinese imagination/mythology, the blurred state of the universe before heaven and earth split was called 'hun dun’ (means chaos). This state is similar to the Chinese market in the post pandemic era, where we all have to get used to working in 'uncertainty and chaos'. But it is in this ‘chaos’ that everyone of the team has the potential to be a lighthouse in the chaotic world and find a breakthrough. Therefore, I would suggest that companies who want to be more innovative can always hold the belief that everyone is a lighthouse, regroup with a target to solve problems, instead of a assembly line with everyone in their fixed role.