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January 17, 2017

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Taco Bell to tickle taste buds with ‘Live More’

YUM China last week officially introduced Taco Bell, the largest Mexican-inspired restaurant chain, to China as it further diversifies its offerings in the world’s second largest economy.

Located in the Lujiazui area, Taco Bell aims to attract a young and dynamic consumer group and Yum China seeks to open more Taco Bell stores in multiple cities in China, said Chief Executive Officer Micky Pant.

Taco Bell’s menu features the brand’s favorites that have been adapted to local tastes. High quality ingredients coupled with newly developed sauces create items such as the Shrimp and Avocado Burrito unique to Taco Bell restaurants in China.

“We haven’t set any specific target for the number of stores. We want to first focus on one store and make sure the pricing is correct and our marketing strategy appeals to young people,” Pant said in an interview with Shanghai Daily.

The company’s expansion plan in several cities will help it get an idea of the Chinese consumer preferences in different regions and lead to a more detailed understanding of the market.

Yum China has spent the past year preparing for the launch of Taco Bell in China including beefing up its supply chain capability as the new menu items requires different kinds of raw materials from its offerings in KFC and Pizza Hut.

One of its research findings is that Chinese consumers prefer hot food and a greater variety of sauces, so it introduced molten cheese and special sauces like the spicy Sriracha sauce in some of its signature tacos and burritos.

“Built around the concept of ‘Live Mas’ — literally meaning ‘Live More’ — Taco Bell encourages its customers to try things they’ve never tried before and I look forward to creating experiences that surprise and delight people as we expand the Taco Bell brand in China,” said Pant.

To cater to consumers’ preference for faster food delivery and easier ordering process, Taco Bell has introduced self ordering kiosks and the open kitchen also allows diners a glance of the preparation process of each burrito and taco.

Taco Bell’s classic California-inspired look and design also provides a perfect place to enjoy meals with friends and groups. The restaurant’s decorative elements also feature guitars, graffiti art and surfboards hanging from the ceiling, providing customers with a fully immersive and convenient in-restaurant experience.

The location of the Taco Bell store in the Lujiazui area also provides advantages such as bringing traffic from the metro station, office workers, tourists and younger people.

Pant said that Taco Bell wants to make sure the product quality is good so that people who have tried will come back. It has also designed a clear and informative menu board and provides ordering choices for people who are ordering for two or three people. It will also put out more information on the different kinds of sauces for the varied menu items.

Entering its 30th year in the China market since it first opened KFC in 1987, Yum China’s key strategy is to open more new stores and boost sales of existing stores. The primary goal is to grow Pizza Hut and KFC by offering new products, renovating the ordering system, expanding delivery services and enhancing digital capability. It has also been remodeling current stores in the past few years by introducing digital menu boards and providing cashless payment options.

“We will continue to introduce new products to grow same store sales as well as lift our digital marketing capability, including our loyalty programs,” said Pant.

China’s continuous investment in infrastructure and urbanization provides great opportunities for the fast food industry as a whole, and Yum China seeks to expand in all kinds of cities across the board, he added.

Yum China’s delivery business generates about US$700 million and employs around 20,000 delivery drivers nationwide.

The company remains confident and upbeat that it’s set to benefit from the shift of consumer behavior as they’re now dining more outside or buying prepared food.

“China is expected to be the fastest growing market for the fast food sector worldwide and Chinese consumers are especially apt at finding new places to eat as well as great deals driven by the booming digital technologies,” he said.

KFC and Pizza Hut are also offering more contemporary and local products such as congee for KFC breakfast.

Yum China has also taken several steps to ensure food safety, which is its number one priority.

“We have a very detailed process with our suppliers and across every step of delivery and in the warehouses. We feel very good about investments we’ve made in people, systems and technology to make sure our products are safe.”

“Fast food is a growth market and we’re very confident we will continue to grow in China,” said Pant.


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