KFC is doing new and exciting things with technology in China.

KFC is doing new and exciting things with technology in China. Source: Shutterstock

How KFC is using technology to wow China

CHINA loves its fast food and its citizens are fuelling the growth of the industry — and KFC is one of the most popular fast food chains in the country.

The first store opened way back in 1987, and has grown quite quickly in its 1,200 cities. Yum China, KFC’s parent company (who also runs Pizza Hut and Taco Bell) has more than 8,100 restaurants now and employs more than 460,000 people.

In fact, the Chinese arm, which generated more than US$7.1 billion in system sales (2017), is so successful that it was listed as a separate entity on the New York Stock Exchange in 2016.

Globally, the industry generates revenues of over US$570 billion per annum and is expected to grow at 2.5 percent for the next several years.

In recent years, the company has used technology to transform its relationship with customers, improve the experience it provides, and transform their business in China.

Here are some of the interesting solutions that KFC uses in China to wow its customers:

# 1 | Mobile location technology to tempt customers to stores

Using location-based targeting campaigns might not seem groundbreaking, but in terms of result, it’s something that definitely got the attention of senior leaders in the business.

The fast-food brand used the technology to drive nearby consumers into KFC stores through proximity targeting and conquest ads at competitor locations.

In addition to an uplift in store visitation, the campaign demonstrated to executives that engaging with customers nearby KFC stores drove a click-through rate 40 percent above the industry benchmark.

Marketers also found that the most receptive demographic to location-based targeting were busy parents with families, which helped them tailor the campaign for this segment.

# 2 | Facial recognition to predict orders

At KFC, cameras keep an eye on customers and staff — and given the number of burgers it sells every minute, there’s a lot of data it has about customers.

Leveraging that data, the company has created a solution that forecasts customer orders by estimating the mood of the customer, along with their gender and age, (and even factors in past orders for returning customers).

If customers aren’t happy with their recommended order, they can navigate through a list of alternatives.

# 3 | Flash a smile to pay for your orders

The company has also introduced a pay with facial recognition feature, allowing customers to pay for their meal by flashing a smile.

Combined with a 3D camera and liveness detection algorithm, the smile to pay feature can effectively block spoofing attempts using other people’s photos or video recordings and ensure account safety.

This system, powered by Alibaba, has caught the attention of younger customers — the selfie generation.