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Kentucky Fried Chicken: International cultural conflicts in China and Brazil

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The first event occurred in December, 2003, KFC began to market its new product “Chicken Warp of GuLao Meat” (an innovation of a Cantonese traditional dish). The commercial in which they marketed this new product showed a traditional Chinese Cantonese restaurant empty and the local KFC filled with people looking for the new wrap. In the end of the commercial even the Cantonese chef could not resist the new wrap, takes a bite and the restaurant tablet falls from the wall. Chinese consumers revolted at the idea that a western fast food restaurant could produce and defeat traditional Chinese restaurant.

The commercial was eventually banned by the Chinese government. The second culture mistake KFC mad in July, 2006. KFC ran and commercial depicting a Taoist monk, Fu Qingzhu who helped defend China against invaders in the 17 century, proclaiming the new KFC chicken burger as a “masterpiece”. The problem with this ad is Taoist monks are primary vegetarians and Fu Qingzhu is viewed a hero by most Chinese. In both cases KFC failed to realize the importance of Chinese history and traditions. This is even more important today than in the past due to the large influx of western business into mainland China, which Chinese believed not to respect their traditions. Because of this the Chinese are becoming even more protective of their traditions and culture.

The second culture incident happened in Brazil in the early nineties. KFC enjoyed initial success with the opening of their restaurants in Rio de Janerio. However very quickly their sales began to drop and the local population would not visit their stores. KFC struggled to find an answer to their decline and finally discovered that Brazilians consumers were unhappy that they would have to eat their chicken with their hand and out of a box. KFC had conducted market research to see if their product would succeed in the Brazilian market however they failed to look at the cultural aspect of Brazilians dined. To remedy this problem KFC now serves its chicken on a porcelain dishes and with silverware.

In both China and Brazil KFC failed to look in depth at the culture of the host country they were working in. As with the China incidents, KFC loss valuable customers by making the same mistake twice, ignoring the importance of Chinese history, in a market were competition is coming fast to gain a foothold in one of the fastest growing economies is the world.

In conclusion, KFC did not do the proper research before and during its venture in China and Brazil. Most of KFCs conflicts and issues could have been avoided if the time and effort had been put into investigating the culture differences.


Li, D (2004) Do in China as the Chinese doRetrieved Jan 5, 2007 from blog.lidan.netUPI (2006) KFC Faces cultural backlash in ChinaRetrieved Jan 5, 2007 www.sciencedaily.comKing, J. (2003) A Case study of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Latin America

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