From being a part of High Fashion to Technology KFC in China is redefining the way the brand is becoming a part of the consumers extended life. By Arpan Jennifer Vimal
KFC is all over China. And not just with its buckets of fried chicken. The fastfood chain – one of the country’s most popular – has recently unleashed a series of clever marketing props to keep luring in its Chinese consumers, with a special eye on Millennials and Generation Z.
The push doesn’t involve a new menu or fancy new deals, however. Rather, the multinational has been dipping its toes (or shall we say fingers) into lifestyle and tech. Because nothing says ‘hip’ and ‘panache’ more than deep-fried poultry.
A first effort was seen at Shanghai Fashion Week last month, when the chain partnered up with up-and-coming designer C.J.Yao for her Autumn/Winter 2016 collection – a bizarre collaboration that saw models strutting down the runway sporting sweaters logoed with big ‘Ks’ and bags in the shape of the Colonel’s famed buckets, inclusive of chicken bits, burgers and fries made in sponge-like materials.
On April 25, the masterminds behind Colonel Sanders unveiled ‘Original+,’ KFC’s first technological-driven concept store, in Shanghai. Named after the brand’s time-honored recipe, the outlet was designed in collaboration with tech giant Baidu , and features an artificial intelligence robot called Dumi that serves customers by taking their orders through voice commands – though for now the device can’t understand English or the local dialect, Shanghainese. Patrons can also charge their mobile phones at wireless charging stations, and pay for their meals via mobile payment services including Alipay and Baidu Wallet. To hype up the launch, the fast food franchise had Chinese pop star and major heartthrob Lu Han demonstrate the skills of Dumi both in an ad and at the opening – a smart move aimed to appeal to the younger, celebrity-hungry sector of the market.
Not to make its Hong Kong costumers feel left out of such endearing efforts, KFC showed some love to the former British colony too, with an exclusive new product sure to stir envy among KFC lovers the world over: a nail polish.
Called “Finger Lickin’ Good Nail Polish,” the varnish – only available in Hong Kong in 300 to 500 limited edition bottles – comes in two flavors, Original and Hot and Spicy (or brown and red colors),
and is made with natural ingredients that are all edible, from original recipe seasoning and vegetable gum to edible color and vegetable oil. As a result of its natural components, this isn’t not your typical lacquer: each bottle lasts about five days after it’s crafted, it can’t be reused once opened and, when applied, it needs to be ingested within five minutes of opening. China Real Time aptly described it as “really more sauce than polish.” Although not publicly released, KFC is running a Facebook poll to decide which of the two flavors may one day hit stores. A pointless marketing exercise or an intriguing new way of branding?