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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
9
KFC in China: Secret Recipe for Success
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on June 22, 2010
For those of whom has zero experiences in fast food industry, and who is very interested in setting up business there in China, to take advantage of the huge middle class market and explosive economy, this book is a MUST read. Warren offers an unique prospective to the start-up/grow-up/prosper phases of the KFC operations in China, from smooth transition of the corporate culture and branding, to the successful implementation of localization of management team via the Taiwan Gang, to supply chain/govertment relationship/customer relationship management, and future expansion strategy vs. competitor etc. Lots of insights and experiences which should be helpful for those who want to get their feet wet into possible (no matter franchising or start-up) business there in China.
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on June 30, 2009
Cite my friend's comment:

'This book is very impressive in a way how it present the business strategies in understandable way. I am a chemistry student. But I really enjoyed the business stories hidden behind KFC's huge success in China.

The secret the author is telling is not only to do with fast food industry, but also available for all the business which want to spread out into international market. Localization, fast decisions, right group of target and timing are all key things which have been deeply analyzed in this book. It's a real guidance for business in China.

Love it. '
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on October 3, 2009
Warren Liu's book covers KFC's successful development from opening its first store in China to its current dominant position in the Chinese fast food industry. The author details every aspect of KFC's rise from leadership and strategy to supply chain and localization. The contents of the book are wonderful lessons for anyone who wants to establish successful business operations in China.

The author points out that the appropriate leadership was an important factor in KFC's early and current success. A combination of Chinese cultural background and a proximity to Western thought in KFC's Taiwan management team helped KFC to penetrate the Chinese market as a Western franchise. Mr. Liu also points out that one of KFC's strategies was to expand rapidly, even during the Asian Financial Crisis. This expansion strategy both established KFC as the #1 fast food chain by number of outlets in China and as the cost and marketing leader among fast food franchises.

In comparison to KFC's main Western rival in China, KFC outdid MacDonald's in both supply chain structure and localization of image and product. While MacDonald's imported its concept of outsourcing supply chain functions, KFC built its supply chains locally, which turned out to be cheaper and more effective. KFC's products are also more localized to Chinese consumer tastes and preferences, something that MacDonald's struggled to accomplish.

In addition to the above the author also points to KFC's real estate development, training, employee mentoring, operational support, among other factors, coupled with its drive to succeed in China that differentiated KFC from other competitors that have not enjoyed the level of KFC-success in China.

Anyone who's looking to enter or continue to navigate the Chinese market successfully will find the conclusions mentioned in this book helpful. The lessons from KFC are genuine and interesting to learn. Students of this book will appreciate the real-life examples from KFC's early days to today. These examples are practical and laid out systematically. In reading this book, the author makes it is easy and entertaining to see why and how KFC came to dominate the Chinese fast food market.
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on November 20, 2008
As a former business leader with major MNCs and now an entrepreneur in China for many years, I know KFC has been doing pretty well in this country. However, I had no idea how successful KFC is in China until I have finished reading Warren's book. While China business accounts for 5-10% for most Fortune 500 companies today, Yum! Brands China contributed 21% of the group's global sales and 23% of its earnings in 2007, and the company is still growing fast in this market.

For readers who are not in the restaurant business, don't assume restaurant is an easy business in China. In fact, the opposite is true. In today's China, consumers have just too many choices, it's one of the world's most competitive restaurant markets in terms of variety, prices and choices. So one can't help wondering how KFC can do it. What are the key elements that are accountable for the KFC success?

Warren as a key person behind this business success has insightfully revealed the key learnings from KFC's success in China: from deploying ethic Chinese leaders to developing local managers quickly to support the company's aggressive growth strategy, from seeking operational excellence to building strong relationships with partners and governments, from adopting flexible product and marketing strategies to building a highly efficient supply chain.

Anyone who is running a China business, no matter which industry they are in, can learn something from KFC's success in China by taking an inside look at the company's operations in the country through Warren's eyes.
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on July 25, 2009
I have read a number of China success guides, but Warren K. Liu's work is original for a variety of reasons. Never before have I studied such an honest and detailed account of the inner-workings of an indispuitably successful brand in China: KFC. And all written from the perspective of anticipating its continued China dominance over global market leader, McDonald's. As a former vice president of business development and a member of the Tricon Greater China Executive Committee, Mr. Liu is certainly in a position to know how and why KFC became such a runaway success in China. "Also ran" brands such as KFC always have a chance at redemption in China, provided that they have the right strategy. Buick positioned successfully as a luxury brand in China is another example that comes to mind. However, the KFC experience in China is truly unique and much can be learned from Liu's detailed account.

A major part of the story begins at McDonald's in Taiwan, where the vast predominance of KFC China's senior staff were recruited, including author Warren K. Liu. The amazing success of this experienced group Liu affectionately refers to throughout the book as the "Taiwan Gang" shows that recruiting the right talent, especially in terms of management, at the outset of global businesses entering the China market is key. The next stage, which Mr. Liu also details, is the effective handing over of key management positions to local Mainland Chinese colleagues after passing on skills. Overall, Liu identifies the quality of the management team as a key KFC business differentiator in China.

KFC's brand positioning as "An American Brand with Chinese Characteristics" is also critical, demonstrating that Mr. Liu and his Taiwanese colleagues did their homework and understood the China context better than competitors. Given the mixed feelings of admiration and resentment that average Chinese have about Western brands active in China, this positioning is brilliant. It is also a word play on Chinese government economic policy. Meanwhile, Liu accurately describes McDonald's emphasizing individualism and self-expression in marketing communications, which obviously does not resonate as well in China.

Warren K. Liu also includes some interesting sections in his book regarding the challenges of dealing with Chinese joint venture (JV) partners that will be of interest to many readers. KFC China's overall strategy of achieving rapid growth economies of scale, such that they now have twice as many restaurants as McDonald's China, is also extremely fascinating. Finally, other aspects mentioned including Chinese people preferring pork to chicken and all other meats, the importance of clean toilets in KFC's success, KFC's product localization in China, and how to use crises as opportunities to expand your business in China, are all compelling.

To me however, the key point of interest in this case study is how KFC successfully positioned themselves as being "more Chinese" than McDonald's and how that has lead to KFC's continued market dominance.
1 helpful vote
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on January 31, 2009
At last, a business book that shows exactly how important local cultural understanding is for real success in China. What is one of the most important aspects of KFC's market leadership in China, as the largest chain restaurant? Liu is right there with the answer: toilets. Well, that is not the only reason, but it is a big one, and one that McDonald's used successfully in Taiwan. This down-to-earth observation is what makes Liu's book so good. Listen to my full review for more ([...].

Not a research book, but not a shallow journalistic stab either. Practical is how I would classify Liu's work, but with an emphasis on the MBA orientation. Topics are covered in standard business school ways, but the nuggets come out when Liu shows how KFC China had to break with Western assumptions, go against American HQ tendencies, and draw on a gang of Taiwan experienced managers to really make take KFC's core advantages (mainly chicken) take off in China.
1 helpful vote
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on June 20, 2009
Like many other people in China, I like Burgers & Chicken in KFC China, French Fries in McDonald China, and...double whoppers with cheese in Burger King. But KFC China has way more choices that you won't have the chance to taste in US. KFC China is doing so well that I remember two years ago I was driving around with other friends in Florida just want to find a KFC restaurant so that we can have a taste of the "authentic" KFC chicken. (Well, I prefer the "China" version to the "authentic" one). That being said, "KFC in China" explains why and how KFC succeeded in China and does provide a secrete recipe for success in China by providing an in-depth analysis of KFC's growth in China. Besides, the book contains many interesting but very thought-intriguing anecdotes. You might find the book very handy in case of coping with certain practical business problems in China.
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on April 17, 2009
Managing a business is not a simple science but an art. Although there are many books to describe running a business in China, this one is unlike the others.

To start with a few background on KFC first.

Firstly, KFC has already made a strong presence in this own country. Its headquarters can definitely provide good support for initial establishment, but it could end up to be a burden if delegation is not properly set. Repeating success is almost "expected" in everyone's mind but it is not definitely.

Secondly, Chinese has a different values on food quality than other people in the world. KFC must break the barrier of how Chinese think about fast food.

Thirdly, people made the difference. KFC was willing to appoint Chinese to oversee the operations who introduced localization in both its products and management styles. Also, it is important to establish second-tier of management team locally in order to handle the coming needs in expansion.

The book provided a lot of details how different teams worked together to make the success of KFC over its competitors in China. Throughout the reading, it was an enjoyable experience to learn how the author organised and managed the enterprise to overcome the above issues. Highly recommended.
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on April 11, 2010
Warren Liu's book, KFC in China, paints a comprehensive picture of Yum! Brand's success in China, starting with the launch of the first KFC in Beijing to his own thoughts on the future of KFC in China. Liu's book balances helping readers understand KFC's business strategies while also giving enough context on consumer trends, the urban transformation of China and the fast food industry.
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