KFC China & Isobar reveal experience-led transformation journey at Cannes Lions
YUM! China CMO Steven Li and Isobar China Group CCO Chris Chen spoke on the Innovation Stage today to share how KFC China used creativity and innovation to drive business and brand transformation.
The pair walked through KFC’s challenge specific to China - in 2015, KFC had been in the country for 28 years and needed a brand refresh, to take the opportunity to connect with China’s growing millennial audience.
Steven explained, “We decided to disrupt ourselves – to reinvent the experience.”
To a packed audience the duo revealed the three key insights that underpinned their strategy – for Millennials and Post-95s in China, eating out is a trendy social experience, technology has changed their lifestyle massively, and they do everything with purpose.
The key to transforming the brand and driving business growth laid in using these insights to create brand experiences powered by technology that would be highly relevant, creative and scalable.
Chris explained, “At Isobar, experience-led transformation is at our heart, and for KFC we had to create experiences that really ‘lived in culture’.”
Steven shared insights into KFC China’s strategy,"We wanted to build the KFC digital ecosystem. We didn’t want to be part of another company's ecosystem. We wanted to build our own & challenged ourselves to think like a product manager in an internet company.”
Solutions included re-inventing the KFC experience, launching a fully digital KFC brand (KPro), introducing digital ordering, payments and delivery service, launching a KFC membership programme, and diversifying the product.
The pair also revealed how AI is used to enhance KFC customer experiences in China – from personalised menus, to understanding customer dialects to the intelligent distribution system.
Steven explained, “We believe that technology liberates the creative way of thinking and transforms customer experience.”
After KFC China’s transformation, the brand has been described as a tech company disguised as a fried chicken business for its use of digital and data to transform itself, with the experiences helping KFC to be described as the most influential restaurant brand in China in 2017.
Isobar’s view is that this work was about more than digitising KFC. It was about powering the brand in China through digital transformation, augmenting the creative experience through technology.
They concluded, “Business and brands need to disrupt, or be disrupted.”