What criteria do global consumer brands use for deciding on regional websites?

While preparing material for my guest presentation to MBA’s of Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in May this year, I discovered to my surprise that  KFC does not have a South African website! On visiting the brand’s global website I found its content to be irrelevant for the South African market. The only thing I found useful on the global website was the store locator, which also poses a small challenge because a lot of South African locations, e.g. East London, share names with other international locations. On scratching the surface further, I found that KFC does have regional websites for the likes of UK and Australia. While I was perplexed by my finding, I did not pursue the matter any further then.

The Times Top Retail Awards 2009

Grand Prix Awards in Top Retail Brands Survey 2009

KFC was thrust back onto my radar when it won the Grand Prix Award in the recent The Times and Sowetan Top Retail Brands Survey, a South African annual consumer survey that is conducted by TNS Research Surveys. This survey is a key measure of how well retail brands are doing in achieving positive consumer relationships.

On reading about the survey above, my recollection that the brand (still) does not have a South African website lead to this article.

Here are some interesting facts about KFC’s performance in my country:

  1. The brand is the most popular fast food restaurant chain, with the largest number of restaurants (at more than 500), and  it is seeing strong growth and a substantially higher market share of over 40% (www.marketingweb.co.za) despite the prevailing tough economic environment.
  2. The brand has among the largest number of TV ads flighted (my count comes to 6 currently flighting ads) across all TV advertising, and these have also been on high rotation. TV is the largest contributor to South Africa’s media advertising at more than 40%, and this share has been growing steadily for the last 4 years. My estimation is that KFC spent well over R200 million in advertising on this medium alone. See also the Nielsen’s report on top 10 monthly media spenders for March 2009.
  3. The brand has a strong appeal across a large spread of consumer affordability levels compared to its competitors. I can attest to this based on the profile of consumers I see at the various stores that I visit to buy my favourite Twister meal. Now, there you have it! I love the KFC brand, so I may be writing this article from a biased view.
  4. The brand received 6 of every 10  customer comments in its category on Hello Peter, an online consumer watchdog, in the past 12 months. The category customer comments were made up of  75% complaints and 25% compliments, and KFC’s split was in line with the average.

The facts above clearly indicate that KFC is a big brand in its category, it appeals to consumers who comment about it online, and it is among the biggest media spenders. With this in mind, I am curious to find out why KFC does not have a South African website, while other global brands such as McDonald’s ( a much smaller direct competitor) and Coca-Cola (a global player in by all accounts) do have them?

Can anyone out there share some wisdom?

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One thought on “What criteria do global consumer brands use for deciding on regional websites?

  1. I got response from Nikki Rule, Yum’s Chief Marketing Executive.
    I would like to thank her for taking the time to read the article and bringing me up to speed on reasons (which are unfortunately confidential) why KFC does not have a SA website at this stage.

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