KFC is exploding with great creative of late. Fresh voice, naming, design, creative, motion and even a brilliant online retail store for branded merch that you didn’t know you needed. (Even a $20,000 meteorite of the Zinger sandwich that inspired it.)
KFC’s creative innovation isn’t just happening in its home market. The Yum!-owned brand just opened a ‘better-for-you’ franchise named K PRO in China, offering alternatives to the fat-laden fried chicken and fries that made it famous—along with beer on tap to accompany the salads and paninis.
The first K PRO opened opened in Hanghzhou Zhejiang province in the MIXC Mall (万象城) on July 1 with a color scheme of green and white to underscore the healthier fare, while aproned servers offer table service.
The uniforms and packaging still sport the KFC logo, but the brand’s iconic red is nowhere to be seen. Plants are set up across tables to make it look less like a fast food eatery and more like a café at the first K PRO location.
— Yicai Global 第一财经 (@yicaichina) July 4, 2017
Diners eat below a sign that reads: “TASTY FRESH READY.” On the menu at K PRO, paninis and salads that can be topped with grilled (not fried) chicken breast, South American white shrimp, smoked salmon or crayfish – a popular item in China — in addition to fresh juice and beer.
For those with a sweet tooth, there’s soft-serve ice cream, and french fries can also be had – along with a spicy wing “snack” if fried chicken is your hankering.
KFC is China’s largest restaurant chain and locations there are owned or franchised by Yum China, also owner of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains in China, and spun off from Yum! Brands in 2016.
KFC was the first Western fast food company in China opening an outlet in Qianmen, Beijing in 1987. KFC has 5,138 outlets in China as of 2017.
For the past few years the brand has used China to test ideas including a robot-run restaurant in Shanghai, a Beijing location that introduced facial recognition ordering kiosks and its first branded smartphone, with Huawei.
KFC has tested different approaches to cracking the Chinese market including unique Chinese offerings such as congee and ‘fungus salad’ and local creations such as the ‘Chizza’ (chicken pizza).
It’s a definitive sign of the times that KFC, the paragon of fast fried food is turning toward greener pastures with K PRO. Consumer tastes are changing and even legacy brands are having to re-examine and adjust their own products and principles.