Pollo Campero: Serving China: Cultural barriers fall when you identify the right market opening.

25 Jan 2009|Added Value

Pollo Campero means “country chicken” in Spanish, but it may mean “trouble” to competitors in the restaurant industry. The Guatemala-based chain serves a marinated, lightly fried chicken in a setting that emphasizes family dining. Their simple values and flavorful food already draw over 75 million customers a year throughout Central America, as well as selected cities in the US, South America and Mexico.

Expansion: Building on their success, Pollo Campero eyes the global market.

Formulating a Global Strategy
Pollo Campero president, Juan José Gutiérrez, affirms that 2006 will be a year dedicated to a new and ambitious goal: seeking a good positioning of the company’s brand and its product in Asia. The highly successful Guatemala-based chain plans to open 500 restaurants in the next 5 years in Shanghai, Beijing and Wuhan – cities which together represent over 33 million potential customers.

This expansive goal led Pollo Campero to Cheskin, bringing us one of the more difficult challenges we’ve faced lately. The company’s management asked us to help them understand Chinese consumers and, using those insights, help them successfully expand their distinctive restaurant experience in this new market.

Cheskin’s experience with both Latin American culture and the rapidly emerging Chinese consumer market made us uniquely qualified to tackle this daunting cross-cultural problem

Uncovering Needs with a Multi-Cultural Ethnography Team
Using a team of ethnographers who could speak Spanish and Mandarin, we immersed ourselves in both cultural contexts. We saw that traditional US fast food restaurants like KFC and McDonald’s are losing their aspirational appeal in first-tier Chinese cities as they became standard parts of middle class life. At the same time, these Chinese consumers are starting to seek more upscale, casual dining restaurants that provide foreign or exotic experiences. Fascination with Latin American culture in particular is growing. 

Changing Needs: Consumers in China seek more upscale and exotic dining experiences.

Leveraging Cultural Insight
Using these and other insights, we showed Pollo Campero how to meet the aspirations of middle class Chinese without abandoning the tradition and authenticity that has been essential to the company’s past success. We encouraged Pollo Campero to emphasize their Latin American heritage throughout their brand expression, including restaurant design, service level and the food selection.

As a result, Pollo Campero is better prepared for this major expansion, and confident they can attract and serve the millions of new customers waiting for them in China.

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