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KFC’s genius Christmas marketing strategy


Kentucky Fried Chicken launched a marketing strategy that fueled a national obsession with their product. Here are 3 ways you can do the same.

Back in 1974, KFC created a campaign called “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) that created a lasting, national obsession in Japan. To this day, people in Japan can’t get enough KFC and sometimes wait in line for over two hours just to get a taste of the crispy, fried goodness.

So, how can you create the same level of fervor for your business?


1.  It’s all about market research

In this example, they noticed that some ex-pats were substituting KFC’s fried chicken for the traditional holiday roast turkey, which is unavailable in Japan. In your case, it might be a focus group or scraping social media data to find out what is missing in your customer’s lives and help you figure out a way for your product to fill that gap.

2. Timing is everything

Even though only 1% of Japan’s residents celebrate Christmas, KFC understood the importance of timing. Basing an annual celebration on Christmas isn’t the point. What matters is that, every year, KFC becomes synonymous with celebrating.

Every potential customer has something to celebrate, whether large or small. Position your product as being part of their celebration. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a major holiday. It could be something as routine as having a good day in the office. By associating your product with positive outcomes, your marketing strategy can support itself for years to come.

3. Grow and evolve

KFC’s first Christmas meal was fried chicken and a drink. Today, they offer champagne, luscious desserts and sushi to accompany the usual entrees. KFC kept up with the changing demands of the customers.

Once you gain new customers, you need to keep them. The best way to do that is to continually evolve your offerings while, at the same time, stay true to your core competency. Stay on brand and on message. That way, you’ll have repeat customers who come back for the traditional experience and also those who come back to see what is new.