KFC tailors approach in Africa

22 January 2013

CAPE TOWN: KFC, the restaurant chain owned by Yum Brands, is tailoring its strategy, product range and advertising in individual African markets, reflecting the region's considerable diversity.

Having started trading in Africa in the 1970s, KFC had outlets in over ten countries by the close of last year, a group including Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Swaziland.

The chain also hopes to move into nations like Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe this year, with Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal among the longer term targets.

Bruce Layzell, its general manager of new African markets, told How We Made It in Africa that adopting an "archaic view" depicting the continent's consumers as a "homogeneous people" constituted a major mistake.

"A Zambian is as different to a Nigerian, as an Italian is different to a Russian, and people need to start to understand that," he said. "So people are different, and that means tastes are different, cultures are different, religions are different.

"As a result, how we take our products to these different people, need to obviously be different. We need to meet them at their needs," said Layzell. "We want to reflect the local culture on the walls and in our advertising."

KFC has thus introduced bespoke items in many markets, such as jollof rice in Nigeria and ugali, a type of porridge, in Kenya. "When there is a need for some localisation of the menu, we absolutely will do that," Layzell said.

Nigeria, with a population of over 160m, is the most attractive country in Africa for KFC, while Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania - in the east of the region - also together house 100m people.

Ghana, which contains around 25m citizens, may be smaller, but has equally been a "wonderful place to do business" due to comparatively strong levels of political and economic stability.

One problem facing many firms looking to expand in Africa is a "dearth" of quality retail space. Layzell gave the example of Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city with 15m residents and only two "world class" malls.

"But what we are seeing is there are many South African property developers moving up in Africa," he added. "Down the line we will have more access to that, but certainly at the moment, there is a massive dearth of quality retail space.

"But if you have a look at the potential upside of sub-Saharan Africa, it is massive. We really believe in it. And we want to see Africa's contribution to our global results increase year on year on year."

Data sourced from How We Made It in Africa; additional content by Warc staff