KFC Rolls Out Branded Smartphone in China

July 12, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Remember how we were talking about Yum China’s sagging sales a couple days ago, and wondering if it wouldn’t turn harder to mobile to help drive those sales up? Well, wonder no more because that does seem to be the battle plan. The evidence? A brand new smartphone with Colonel Sanders’ face on it, poised to be offered in China.

The phone—a fire-engine red affair with the Colonel’s mug plastered thereon—is a commemorative, limited-edition item celebrating the 30th anniversary of KFC locations in China. The device is set to be made by Huawei, which oddly enough, is also celebrating its 30th anniversary.

KFC’s status in China has both a surprisingly rich history and is marked by routine technological advancement. KFC has offered up smartphone games for its customers, and recently started up a restaurant in Shanghai staffed wholly by robots.

There’s not much specifically known about the phone itself just yet, aside that it’s made by Huawei. Price and place of sale are both question marks ahead of release. The phone will come pre-loaded, however, with the KFC app’s Chinese version, which includes playlists for songs in KFC locations—you can actually control the background music in Chinese KFCs—and more.

This is a great opportunity for KFC in China to push ahead. While there may only be so many takers for the new phone—new phone buying decisions often tend to predicate on the question “do I even need a new smartphone?”—those who do get in on this will likely be excellent marketing targets for KFC. Not only is the new device a potential profit point for KFC, but it’s also a great way to have a tame pool of interested users who will probably want to know about discounts and similar matter. It’s also a great way to incorporate the loyalty programs that it’s been working on, as well as order-ahead and other functions if they’re not already in the Chinese version of the KFC app.

The more KFC can do with mobile in China, the better, and selling the platform could be a good idea. The question is, will there be enough takers on this device to make it a worthwhile strategy?