Magazine article Marketing

KFC Cooks Up New Look for Food Fight

Magazine article Marketing

KFC Cooks Up New Look for Food Fight

Article excerpt

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), the fourth most heavily advertised fast food chain in the country, this month begins a total overhaul of its brand identity.

The name has been abbreviated to KFC Express and the dominant red livery has been replaced by red and blue on the restaurant fronts. Colonel Saunders remains the mascot.

KFC head office refuses to comment on the shake-up to its 290 strong restaurant chain. "It would be premature to speak now," says one spokesperson.

But individual restaurant managers are more forthcoming. "Eventually all will change over, some now, some later," says the manager of one London outlet. "Some Birmingham restaurants have just changed to KFC branding," confirms one Midlands-based manager.

KFC, jointly owned by Pepsico and Forte Hotels has suffered from a decline in sales over the past year.

Heightened competition in the |pounds~4.4bn fast food market particularly from the biggest player McDonald's and among the main pizza chains including Pepsico-owned Pizza Hut, Perfect Pizza and Pizzaland has put the squeeze on chicken outlets.

The past two years have seen this sector -- last year worth |pounds~294m and dominated by KFC -- underperform the market as a whole.

Industry analysts put this down to four main factors. First, as consumers are becoming more health-conscious, fried chicken meals are being substituted by pizzas which are perceived as being more healthy.

Second, the two leading hamburger chains, McDonald's and Grand Met-owned Burger King have both stolen sales away from the likes of KFC by offering their own chicken products: McNuggets and Flamers.

Third, presentation and decor in the restaurants is generally perceived as being poorer than that in the leading hamburger chains.

And finally, locations are often poor. Most are positioned in secondary sites, away from the high street on small premises with limited seating.

KFC is trying to remedy this problem of location by selling of some of its smaller, more obscurely sited franchises -- often to smaller chicken chains -- and is attempting to buy up larger high street locations.

This month's refurbishment and rebranding programme is an attempt to play down the 'fried' element to its positioning, says one competitor. It is also an attempt to update a tired-looking format, and, she adds, to distance the chain from imitators such as Southern Fried Chicken and Favourite Chicken. …

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