Accenture Interactive

How the faces of China changed KFC

The pioneering fusion of e-commerce and social media shows how digital realms can invoke a human-centric experience - and sell buckets of chicken, too.

How the faces of China changed KFC

With the world in their pocket, it can sometimes feel today’s savvy consumers are one step ahead of the brands trying to reach them. Social media and mobile technology continue to dramatically impact our shopping habits, and the ways brands tell their stories are changing to keep pace.

With a recent report by Buffer showing 73% of global marketers believe social media is an effective way to market their business, it’s telling that almost 20% also say they are also unsure how to measure effectiveness of social media campaigns.

By bringing a human touch to the digital world, KFC pocket franchise changed KFC China’s online position almost overnight by making its customers the face of the company. This innovative mobile campaign is the perfect embodiment of the phenomenon known as 'social e-commerce', otherwise known as the merging of solitary, single-channel e-commerce platforms with social media.

It all started during Christmas 2018, when the KFC pocket franchise was launched as a mini programme on WeChat. The rise of food platform giants on the Chinese social network means diners are increasingly choosing to order in rather than dine out. The challenge? To get more of today’s youth back to dining out at KFC.

This new WeChat mini programme invites anyone to own and personalise their own KFC store, as well as managing and curating the products they sell. Gamified features such as the ability to unlock new products and design your storefront further augment the experience.

It wasn’t long before KFC pocket franchises became a social talking point, particularly among a younger demographic. Celebrities have also joined with their own franchises, officially turning the concept into a trend as fans flock to take part.

One thing that differentiates the pocket franchise concept from other social media commerce campaigns is the emphasis on strengthening relationships and encouraging interaction between customers. The 'add sugar' feature, for example, helps the owner to gain points that can be used to unlock surprise features and products. Such was the lure of this bonus, a proliferation of 'sugar' communities formed throughout WeChat groups, allowing friends to 'add sugar' to each other’s stores, while socialising in WeChat groups simultaneously.

Crucially, there are real-world monetary incentives to be gained by 'managers' of pocket franchise stores – when a consumer purchases from a pocket franchise store, they activate discounts at a physical KFC store. In May 2019, the pocket franchise also launched a game that encourages store managers to become 'chefs' by recreating KFC menu items in their kitchen with KFC recipes. These items unlock extra benefits and discounts, as well as enticing more 'customers' to their store. There are imminent plans for store managers to start receiving red packets when they sell items from their store.

This blurring-of-the-boundaries between the digital and physical realms is an important facet of social e-commerce, and one that the KFC pocket store campaign has harnessed to full potential in front of a billion WeChat users, while simultaneously creating a sense of ownership and community.

The result of a cooperation between KFC China and its digital partner, Accenture Interactive-Hocomm, the KFC pocket franchise attests to the role that self-owned DXPs can play in a brand’s digital transformation. It is inarguably a giant success story for KFC – and fans could rest assured that there’s more to come. In the meantime, we’re off to decorate our storefront for summer. 

Source: Campaign Asia-Pacific