Article | Harvard Business Review | November 2011

KFC's Radical Approach to China

by David E. Bell and Mary L. Shelman


Global companies face a crucial question when they enter emerging markets: how far should they go to localize their offerings? Typically they try to sell core products or services pretty much as they've been sold in Europe or the United States, with headquarters calling all the shots—and usually with disappointing results. The authors examined why KFC China has been able to find fertile ground in a market that is notoriously challenging for Western fast-food chains. KFC's executives believed that the dominant logic behind the chain's growth in the U.S.—a limited menu, small stores, and an emphasis on takeout—wouldn't produce the kind of success they were looking for in China. KFC China offers important lessons for global executives seeking guidance in determining how much of their existing business model to keep in emerging markets—and how much to throw away.

Keywords: Food; Food and Beverage Industry; China;


Bell, David E., and Mary L. Shelman. "KFC's Radical Approach to China." Harvard Business Review 89, no. 11 (November 2011).