Australian fast food goliath KFC recently launched a new brand ad that included no chicken, and a duck.
Plucka Duck, no less.
Why would KFC make a sudden break with ads of delicious buckets of chicken and put to air a brave 30sec advertisement starring a Duck best known from 80s variety show Hey Hey It’s Saturday?
KFC have obviously been on a journey with their strategic approach to market segmentation, targeting and brand positioning.
Segmenting the market.
In a recent interview with KFC Chief Marketing Officer Nikki Lawson, Canning (2016) reported that the journey started 4 years ago, prompted by the KFC Global President’s realisation that it was ‘time to shake up what the brand stood for’.
While this mandate from the top was perhaps great permission for KFC Marketing to take a managerial approach to segmentation, why shake things up when Australian households were spending nearly a third of their weekly household food budget on dining out and fast foods (Cancer Council, 2013 p4) and the brand remained in a strong market leading position? (Reid, 2014)
Because after a customer needs assessment, it was clear that KFC customers were voting with their feet.
Research showed that smaller fast-food chicken competitors Nando’s and Oporto were stealing market share. In particular Nando’s who reported not only an increase in total visits, but also an increase in visitation frequency (Smith, 2013). Nando’s had been making a play for the young adult market, and they were starting to listen.
But while Smith (2013) reported that 63% of Australians aged 14 and older had visited a KFC at least once in their lives, the fast-food consumer segment was changing.
For the past five years there has been an overhaul in attitudes towards fast food, with consumers becoming savvier about food content and placing more effort into choosing healthier options (IBISWorld, 2016). The rise of competitor brands like Nando’s and Oporto were fulfilling these new consumer needs.
KFC’s Nikki Lawson could have easily played down these threats of invading competitors and changing consumer attitudes as she knew that KFC was “never going to be the first option for people going on a diet”. But while she also knew that her customers loved the food, “they did not want always want to admit it.” (Canning, 2016)
Validating the target market.
Statistics at the time indicated that the young adult fast-food consumer segment remained strong in growth; however the same research suggested that KFC needed to reconsider how they attract new customers (Smith, 2013). Further, one look at the current product menu demonstrates that the family dinner table is also a profitable customer segment for the company.
So while young adults and families continued to be viable target markets, KFCs tailored strategy to customise a range of products to meet the needs of multiple customer segments should, in principle, thrive. But what beyond the product was left for these customers to connect to? It seems to me that KFC Management was right and the brand vision did need a shake-up.
Repositioning to reconnect.
The challenge was to find a relevant brand position that would enable a creative platform to appeal these differing segments, and find a connection with new ones at the same time.
History is a clear differentiator for KFC against their chicken competitors. To know the future, KFC looked to the past to remember what the brand stood for in the first place (Canning, 2016).
Focusing on being true, original and authentic, along with resurrecting the brand’s original tagline Finger Lickin’ Good from the 1950s, this ad is helping shift the brand positioning from being purely functional to being much more playful and reflective.
It’s clever. In a world where fast food is considered not so clever, the ad has used a mash up of pop icons and music to reconnect KFC with old and new audiences and not a piece of chicken was needed.
Megan Bata, Womaninmarketing, Student ID 216065543
Canning, S 2016, ‘KFC launches stories about self acceptance as it changes the way consumers see the brand’, Mumbrella, 30 March, retrieved 1 April 2016 <http://mumbrella.com.au/kfc-launches-stories-self-acceptance-changes-way-consumers-see-brand-355867#more-355867>.
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