Thursday, October 17, 2013

Christmas = KFC in Japan

Forget Santa Claus. When it comes to Christmas marketing in Japan, Colonel Sanders may take the top prize.

While Christmas isn't a national holiday in the country, Kentucky Fried Chicken has managed to make eating its packaged chicken meals a holiday tradition.

The colonel's recipe is so popular here, the fast-food chain recommends customers place their Christmas orders two months in advance.

"Our holiday sales are five to ten times higher than other months," said spokesman Sumeo Yokokawa. "In Japan, Christmas equals KFC."

KFC's popularity can be traced back to a highly successful marketing campaign that began nearly 40 years ago.

At the time, the Christmas holiday wasn't as widely celebrated in Japan.

Yokokawa says many foreigners came to eat at KFC because they couldn't find a whole turkey or chicken anywhere else.

A KFC employee saw an opportunity to cash in, and the company launched its first Christmas meal in 1974: chicken and wine for $10, a pricey meal at the time.

"The Japanese are keen to celebrate Christmas in a non-religious way," said Roy Larke, a Rikkyo University Business Professor. "There's a certain amount of nostalgia attached to the KFC Christmas meal. People try to pass the tradition onto their children."
--Akiko Fujita, ABC News, on marketing-driven traditions