By 1996, KFC had established 158 company-owned restaurants and franchises in Mexico. In addition to Mexico, KFC was operating 220 restaurants in the Caribbean, and in the Central and South America. Many cultures have strong culinary traditions and have not been easy to penetrate. KFC previously failed in German markets because Germans were not accustomed to take- out food or to ordering food over the counter. KFC has been more successful in the Asian markets, where chicken is a staple dish. Apart from the cultural factors, international business carries risks not present in the U.S. market. Long distances between headquarters and foreign franchises often make it difficult to control the quality of individual franchises. In some countries of the world such as, Malaysia, Indonesia and some others, it is illegal to import poultry, a situation that has led to product shortages. Another challenge facing KFC is to adapt to foreign cultures. The company has been most successful in foreign markets when local people operate restaurants. The purpose is to think like a local, not like an American company.
As KFC entered 1996, it grappled with a number of important issues. During 1980s, consumers began demanding healthier foods, and KFC’s limited menu consisting mainly of fried foods was a difficult liability. In order to soften its fried chicken chain image, the company in 1991, changed its name and logo from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC. In addition, it responded to consumer demands for greater variety by introducing several new products, such as Oriental Wings, Popcorn Chicken, and Honey BBQ Chicken as alternatives to its Original Recipe fried chicken. It also introduced a dessert menu that included a variety of pies and cookies. Soon after KFC entered India, it was greeted with protests of farmers, customers, doctors, and environmentalists. KFC had initially planned to set up 30 restaurants by 1998, but was not able to do so because its revenues did not pick. In early 1998, KFC began to investigate the whole issue more closely. The findings revealed that KFC was perceived as a restaurant serving only chicken. Indian families wanted more variety, and the impression that KFC served only one item failed to enhance its appeal. Moreover, KFC was also believed to be expensive. KFC’s failure was also attributed to certain drawbacks in the message it sent out to consumers about its positioning. It wanted to position itself as a family restaurant and not as a teenage hangout. According to analysts, the ‘family restaurant’ positioning did not come out clearly in its communications. Almost all consumers saw it as a fast food joint specializing in a chicken recipe.
KFC tried to revamp its menu in India. Cole Slaw was replaced with green fresh salads. A fierier burger called Zinger Burger was also introduced. During the Navaratri festival, KFC offered a new range of nine vegetarian products, which included Paneer burgers. Earlier, KFC offered only individual meals, but now the offerings include
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- Fall '15