Social & online are redefining food mktg: Vipul Chawla, Yum

Food is social. One of the first insights about the growth of social media was the online behaviour of users when it came to network while eating or sharing images of food they ordered. While social is one dimension, the other is the ease of ordering food, consequently translating to online sales. Fast food companies had not necessarily realised the pace at which both these trends would impact not only the overall company revenues but also their strategies in reaching out to customers.

The Yum Brands company, which owns brands such as KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, is one such example that revisited its entire gambit of online activities on the back of the movement that it was noticing on its online platforms. “

“Around 49 per cent of social users say that social is how they learn about food. 47 per cent of millennials are networking while eating and these trends are prevalent very significantly in Asia,” remarked Vipul Chawla of Yum Brands.

Mr Chawla pointed out that it was only when the company started recording numbers such as selling USD 2 billion dollars of pizza online, in effect making it one of the largest online retailers in the world or witnessing 50 per cent of its sales in a market such as Singapore coming from online channels that it went to the drawing board to create a ‘strategy’ to accommodate this behaviour.

“If you are selling so much, then it is must be important. It happened even before we realised it. But once we did, we created a strategy based on social listening, customer relationship management and streamlining its online presence not only to bring method to the madness but in the process, also give the consumer a great online experience,” admitted Mr Chawla.

On the whole, Yum Brands online strategy looks to make ordering online and paying online simpler. It also includes augmenting Yum brands’ social presence on various platforms including messaging apps by converting social chatter into social intelligence. The company also used digital platforms to bring consumer insights and stories alive, while connecting with its TG.

Showing its commitment to digital and that digital media was delivering, Yum Brands replaced television with messaging app Kakao Talk in Korea and according to the company, the move also resulted in a dramatic impact in terms of consumer engagement and sales.

One of the points that Mr Chawla believes has come on the back of digital in the level playing field that it has created, especially for many brands that are just entering. “You don’t need large amount of money but an idea around human truth that can make a connection,” commented Mr Chawla.

He also advises companies to come to terms with the fact that creating method in madness can be chaotic. Business and revenue move faster than the method and companies should resort to approaches such as reverse mentoring to stay in pace with the times.

Consumers believe peers and not companies. If it is on twitter, it must be true and companies should be agile to take steps that make a difference in such cases. He said, “Joining the conversation can be fun, and rewarding but you have to work towards that.”

Mr Chawla was speaking at the Festival of Media Asia taking place in Singapore at present.

Via Digital Market Asia

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Lars M. B. Anthonisen is Regional Business Lead, Southeast Asia Strategic Accounts at Google. Previously, he held various digital marketing positions at media companies across Europe and Asia including Regional Digital Director at MediaCom APAC, Marketing Director at Adform and Digital Manager at Universal McCann Worldwide.

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