KFC has teamed up with pet brand PURROOM, offering a special Christmas product designed for cats – popcorn chicken shaped toys filled with catnip and a bell. From 12 December, the toy (which is limited to 10,000 pieces) will be gifted to consumers located in Shanghai when purchasing a set meal either instore or via the online app, and includes new year wishes written on a piece of paper inside.
As of today, the hashtag #PURROOM is under lively discussion amongst cat lovers with views reaching upwards of 429,200 on China’s largest lifestyle-sharing platform Xiaohongshu. One of the top comments under the post with the most likes is “Why don’t KFC become a toy company? All the toys are so cute!” which highlighted one of the main marketing strategies of KFC in China – using limited-edition toys and peripherals to attract young consumers.
In addition to the catnip toy which focuses on the cat lovers’ group, earlier in January, KFC collaborated with Pop Mart, a Chinese toymaker famous for its “blind box” concept and launched a joint series of 6 toys. To collect a full set, consumers were invited to purchase at least 6 meals with a 1/72 chance of obtaining the rarest toy of the lot. The enthusiasm to pursue the limited-edition set led to excessive food waste and overspending by customers, which resulted in criticism by the China Consumer Association.
Apart from the peripherals, the brand’s “Crazy Thursday” campaign also went viral on Chinese social media in September, and was followed by 1.81 billion views and 4 million discussions under the topic #KFCCrazyThursday on Weibo (China’s answer to Twitter) due to a large number of content recreations.
All of the above demonstrates that KFC is constantly and actively seeking brand rejuvenation, catering to the tastes of the younger generation and gaining attention from Gen Z. However, despite the success of these marketing ideas, the reality is that KFC’s sales plunged by 20% in the first two weeks of March with lockdowns taking the blame.
More importantly, they are facing fierce competition by up-and-coming Chinese fast-food chain brands such as Laoxiangji, Dami Xiansheng and Lao Niang Jiu. All three have submitted applications for initial public offerings (IPO) in Shanghai. Whereas shares for KFC dipped amid the arrival of new market players. According to 51report, 61.73% of individuals prefer Chinese fast food to Western ones, paving the way for Chinese fast food brands to enter an age of unprecedented prosperity and a definite annual turnover growth of over 20%.