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Global Perspective: Fast Food Chain and Globalization

McDonald and KFC’s “special menu” in East Asia

It’s the age of the globalization. By now, most fast food companies realized that they cannot survive in a foreign country with the same menu they have in their own home countries. But the challenge is that which menu will they choose? What new products would they add? And what old product will they take out? How will they balance between the globalization and their own corporate identities? In this article, we’ll look at these questions through the menu that McDonald and KFC have in China. But first, let’s know more about our companies.

Many people say that America is the land of the fast food. Fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King and Taco Bell provides food that is tasty, cheap, and most importantly, fast. Even with the declining sales in fast food over the last couple decades, and with more and more studies that indicate fast food is bad for us, traditional American fast food: burgers, fries, and soda, is still popular among the general population. And McDonalds, as the largest fast food chain in the United States, is famous for its cheap burgers, as well as the fact that all McDonalds’ food tastes alike no matter where you go in the world. Kentucky Fried Chicken, aka. KFC, on the other hand, is a fast food chain that became famous because of its Southern-style fried chicken.

Both McDonalds and the KFC have a reputation for their food in the United States; but will the customers in other countries appreciate McDonalds’ and KFC’s menu? Let’s first take a look at the McDonald’s menu in China.

The McDonald’s menu in China looks quite familiar compared to the menu in the United States, which includes almost all of the McDonald’s signature food such as the Big Mac, McNuggets, and cheeseburger. However, there is also food that rarely appears at the United States’ restaurants, such as fried spicy chicken wings and pineapple pies.

McDonalds' desert menu in China
McDonald’s desert menu in China

The biggest “invention” that was created by Asian’s McDonalds is “McCafé,” an American coffee shop-style café featuring “the best coffee” that “100% comes from South America,” according to the McDonalds Chinese’s official website. Although there are McDonalds products that are also called “McCafé” in the United States sold in the McDonalds’ restaurants, some “McCafés” in China are also separate and different from other regular McDonalds’ restaurants, and some of the “McCafés” are even selling bakery items, such as croissants and banana breads.

Photos of a McCafe in China, from McDonald's China's official website
Photos of a McCafe in China, from McDonald’s China’s official website

Compared to McDonalds, KFC’s menu in China is much more different than the one it has in the United States. KFC’s signature fried chicken is still an important dish in a Chinese KFC restaurant, but recently, KFC in China started to combine Chinese food with American fast food, and trying to create new food that will attract Chinese customers who don’t like American fast food very much.

For example, KFC in China started to make dishes such as “fried chicken tender with mushroom sauce over rice” and “fried chicken tenderloin with curry over the rice” years ago, as one strategy to attract Chinese who prefer traditional rice instead of bread and French fries.

KFC's rice dishes, from KFC China's official website
KFC’s rice dishes, from KFC China’s official website

The KFC’s in China also invented the “traditional Chinese breakfast” in order to get more market share in the breakfast market in China. These products include gruel products that are common breakfast food in China. These breakfasts also contain sandwiches that were never sold in the KFC’s in the United States: breakfast Panini, breakfast wrap, and fried egg.

KFC's breakfast gruel and Panini, from KFC China's official website
KFC’s breakfast gruel and Panini, from KFC China’s official website

KFC’s breakfast marketing strategy has proved quite successful, as more and more Chinese started to consider KFC as a place for fast breakfast, even though the price of the breakfast at KFC is more expensive compared to other breakfast places in China.

So next time you go to a different country, don’t just ignore fast food restaurants like McDonalds and KFC, but go there, and see if there is any difference between the menu there and the menu here; and I can sure you that you will find something that is interesting on the menu.