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Sandeep Kataria

Chief Marketing Officer | 09 Mar 2012

“Introducing Fiery Grilled is another milestone on the journey to providing new flavours and formats to our consumers. Taking inspiration from the Indian consumers’ love for spicy and flavourful food, this product is spicy, juicy and truly irresistible.”

Sandeep Kataria works as the Chief Marketing Officer, Yum! Restaurants India. He is responsible for all marketing, branding and brand public relations activities for Yum! in the Indian subcontinent. He joined Yum! in April 2010. Prior to that, he had over sixteen years of experience in Unilever in India and abroad, moving across various leadership roles in general management, global brand management and strategy. He is a Chemical Engineer from IIT Delhi. After completing his MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur, he joined Unilever in 1993.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Rahul Dubey, Kataria shares KFC’s 360-degree marketing campaign for its latest product on the menu, Fiery Grilled Chicken along with the brand’s focus on vegetarian preparations.

Q. How important are innovations in your food segment?

Innovation is at the very core of our brand, and we have got a lot of positive recognition from customers over the last couple years on our new product launches. Our key goal is to translate consumer needs into product offerings, with a unique, inimitable KFC taste.

Q. What is the reason for KFC’s entry into the grilled product category in India? What opportunities do you foresee in this category of food business?

Introducing Fiery Grilled is another milestone on the journey to providing new flavours and formats to our consumers. Taking inspiration from the Indian consumers’ love for spicy and flavourful food, this product is spicy, juicy and truly irresistible. With Fiery Grilled, we look to offer our existing consumers another reason to come to KFC, as well as to build relationships with new customers by offering a new flavour profile. Fiery Grilled was developed over a two year period, including a six month market test. Consumers loved the flavour and appearance, with over 90 per cent of the consumers stating they would love to eat it again. Within a month of its launch, Fiery Grilled Chicken has already created a strong fan base amongst KFC lovers and is also attracting new consumers to the store, reiterating our confidence in the product. This is just a beginning as we look to launch more offerings in the grilled space.

Q. What marketing campaigns have you initiated to support the launch of Fiery Grilled? What is your media mix?

The launch of Fiery Grilled is supported by a robust 360-degree marketing campaign. It has a thematic TVC launch, radio promotions, innovative digital activations, outdoor and in-store promotions. The TVC with the theme, ‘Sets You on Fire’ is youthful and highlights the product’s key attributes – fiery grilled and fiery to taste. The plot revolves around a youngster who dents his elder brother’s car but escapes his brother’s wrath, when he quickens his wit after taking a bite of Fiery Grilled chicken. An extensive digital campaign has also been devised to support the launch. It has Facebook applications, a blogger contest and a sampling exercise in partnership with Indiblogger. KFC fans on Facebook can “set themselves on fire” via a motion sensing application that lights up their every move on the digital platform. They can also tag and share their “fiery” video with friends to win exciting prizes. The campaign has been a success, with over 1500 videos recorded, and 70,000 new users joining the growing ranks of KFC Facebook fans. Bloggers on Indiblogger can enter a contest by describing a series of events, where their sharp minds and fiery tongues have got them out of sticky situations. KFC has also launched an exciting radio promotion, Fiery Brigade in partnership with leading radio stations across the country. It highlights quirky moments where people get out of sticky situations by calling in the KFC Fiery Brigade that brings out their inner fire. The promotion includes RJ mentions, live telecast interventions, etc.

Q. How important are smaller Indian towns to your business in short and long run?

One of our key ambitions is to be accessible to our consumers by opening new stores in existing markets, as well as entering new markets. We entered ten cities in 2011 including tier II cities like Raipur, Ranchi, Indore etc. The warm welcome that we have received across such cities has encouraged us to continue this expansion in 2012 and beyond.

Q. What is the growth rate you are expecting in 2012?

KFC has been growing at a 75 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) over the last 5 years, and expect this trend to continue into 2012.

Q. How has the company’s Indian experience differed from its international operations?

KFC is amongst the world’s most popular quick service restaurant brands with more than 15,000 outlets in 109 countries and territories around the world, serving some 12 million customers each day. In India, KFC offers this international experience in over 150 restaurants across 35 cities. While our international favourites like the Original Recipe, Hot & Crispy Chicken and Zinger Burger are immensely popular in the country; we have introduced a host of India specific innovations such as the Veg Zinger, Krushers Kafeccino, Fiery Grilled, amongst others. We also introduced innovative snacks like Chicken Popcorn. India is a youth driven market for which we have created offerings like the Streetwise menu for college goers, with prices starting at Rs 25.

Q. Where is KFC’s business plan going forward and what are the expansion plans in 2012?

We are expanding aggressively and plan to increase our store count to over 500 stores by 2015.

Q. What is the biggest challenge today in your stated objective of increasing number of outlets to expand customer base?

As we progress on our expansion path, it is critical for us to manage and grow our logistics and supply networks to support the pace of growth. We have continuously worked with all our partners and vendors to ensure consistent, high quality products and experiences to our customers, as we rapidly scale up the presence of the brand.

Q. Where do you see the competition in quick-service restaurant (QSR) segment going?

The organized eating out category is small, only about 2 per cent of the total eating out market, and growing at 30 per cent annually. Hence, there is immense scope for growth, especially in the QSR space.

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