KFC- Khristmas Fried Chicken? Wonders of Marketing- Japan

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Christmas? Plum cakes, christmas tree, candy canes? How about Colonel Sanders in a santa outfit? Let us find out how Japan's KFC marketing introduced a whole new culture.

Fried chicken is a new concept in a country like India which is predominantly a vegetarian country and chicken is cooked in other ways than a KFC crispy, not spicy, not in a curry form. Japan though, already has fried chicken called Karaage which is very similar to the fried chicken of the west but eaten in small bite size pieces rather than whole pieces. So, in a country which already has an established product like fried chicken, how would KFC differentiate itself from the market and enter the market? 


In the 1970s Japan was going through an economic development towards economic power and people had the cash to indulge in consumer culture for the first time. Since American was a cultural powerhouse at the time a lot of interest was shown by the people towards the American culture. Christmas was, and still is, a secular holiday in Japan -a country where less than 1% of the population identifies as Christian. 

Marketing influences people to buy a product but introducing a culture to an entire country is probably possible only with the japanese people. Japan is known to be flexible in accepting foreign cultures and integrating it as their own and this worked like magic for KFC's entry into Japan. By 1981, the chain had opened 324 stores - over 30 a year - and made roughly US$200 million per year.

クリスマスにケンタッキー Kentucky for Khristmas 

A series of repeated advertising was key to getting this slogan to catch on with the people. The main mascot being Colonel Sanders dressed as santa claus. Honestly i would want a Fried chicken santa to leave me a bucket of chicken for being good. KFC's already bright red and white colors were successful to match with the colors of christmas. These were really beautifully done campaigns that linked fried chicken with Christmas as well as Christmas with the idea of consuming luxurious foods.

KFC makes almost all the revenue for the year during this 3 days of holiday season, where people have to pre order for christmas buckets months in advance to receive them on christmas. It has become a phenomenon to definetly buy KFC on Christmas, eat it with your family. 

KFC has specialised their menu to cater to this festivity by adding cakes, salads with the chicken bucket to give it more a festivity feel to the food.

What was even interesting was while I worked with some Japanese in India, on 25 December in India, for the sake of the every year culture, they asked us if we could get KFC for the day for lunch. 

In conclusion, with an audience ready to accept + a great marketing campaign + creativity + a taste of chicken which was already part of the palate = a phenomon and culture like no other, A success story.