KFC Concept Restaurant Gives a Nod to Cause Marketing for Local Causes

KFC, a unit of Yum Brands, is testing a new quick-serve restaurant version of the fried chicken outlet and among the changes is that its cause marketing efforts will be much more local, according to Anne Fuller, senior director of development for KFC eleven.

The KFC eleven test store is in Louisville, Kentucky, KFC’s headquarters. When it opens August 5, 2013, it will feature rice bowls, flatbreads, salads, KFC original recipe chicken among other items, plus sides. A second test location is set to open in Louisville before year’s end. The 11 in KFC eleven is a salute to the 11 herbs and spices in their original recipe chicken.

The trade-dress for the test store includes lamp lighting, digital signage with community news, and artwork from local artists.

Why step into the quick serve space? Fuller answered a reporter from QSRweb.com this way: “People love KFC but it's not a frequent choice for many guests for some reason. We wanted to create a broad and balanced menu that could maybe get more frequency.”

In short, you and I don’t eat at KFC often enough, as far as KFC is concerned.

It would be fun to parse that out a little bit, but instead let’s talk about KFC eleven’s emphasis on local cause marketing.

Says, Fuller, “Another thing we're doing is tying fundraising back into the community. So for opening day, we're going to donate 11 percent of sales to the local chapter of Junior Achievement. We're also open to having local groups sign up for a fundraiser night when 11 percent of sales will go to their causes.” KFC should send me a check, because I recommend this very approach in this space in 2011.

In the past KFC has done cause marketing with Komen, which the cognoscenti hated. KFC also has an in-house effort called KFC Colonel’s Scholars, which awards college scholarships to high school students with an entrepreneurial bent. Pizza Hut, another Yum company has raised more than $115 million for the World Food Programme. Pizza Hut has also long supported literacy efforts. Taco Bell, the third major Yum brand, has an all-purpose cause campaign for teen development.

Of all of them, the World Food Programme effort from Pizza Hut is the splashiest in part because it features Christina Aguilera as the face of the campaign. Pizza Hut has invested a lot in the effort, including encouraging employee volunteerism on behalf of the World Food Programme.

No doubt there are some areas where Yum wields great influence over the choices its brands make… logistics, for instance… and some where the brands have wide latitude. In this case I wonder which it is.

That is, did the KFC eleven development group go ultra-local in their cause marketing efforts because the store’s branding has a local emphasis? Or did they find what research and experience has long shown; people still prefer to support local causes over distant ones?

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