Customer Engagement


Behind KFC's Winning Approach to Activation, Retention, and Monetization

Team Braze By Team Braze Jan 10, 2024

Crushing growth goals is something every brand strives for, but between capturing consumer attention and meeting high customer expectations around data and personalization, the recipe for sustainable growth can be challenging for many businesses.

For Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), the key to continuous growth lies in its customer lifecycle strategy. To learn more about their winning approach, we sat down at Forge with Ashley Travis, Sr. Director of Digital Experience and Product Growth at KFC. There, Ashley shared KFC’s approach to the three components of lifecycle management—activation, retention, and monetization—and explored how different KFC marketers leveraged them to drive stronger outcomes and customer relationships.

How KFC Activates Customers

Brand activation refers to marketing activities created to draw in a company's target audience. Another way to think of activations, Ashley said, is as the “ah-ha!” moments that make a brand more memorable to consumers.

KFC separates activations into two categories, Active and Always-on:

Active: Think big promotions or campaigns. The goal of these activations is to get a large number of consumers to take the next step, whether that’s buying their first meal, downloading the app, etc.

For example, the KFC UK team created a gamified way of bringing customers into the app through a rewards program that gave customers a chance to win prizes. Since this activation’s launch, there have been 2.3 million new app users, 1.8+ million gameplays, and a 44% increase in daily app use.

Always-on: These activations foster smaller moments of brand connection for customers arriving organically or through channels like paid media and store marketing.

When KFC’s Trinidad and Tobago team faced a gap between app downloads and account registrations, they knew they needed to find ways to better onboard new customers. Through rigorous A/B testing, they identified a winning welcome journey that boosted registrations, reduced time from download to first purchase, and drove substantial revenue. This became an evergreen activation, providing ongoing benefits to their customer engagement program.

The Secret Sauce of Retention

Retention is an output metric influenced by a business’s effort to generate and maintain customer engagement. According to Ashley, this can be the hardest element for brands like KFC, which are built around being a crave-able indulgence.

“People don’t eat KFC every day, but we want them to think of KFC in that moment when they want something finger lickin' delicious,” Ashley explains. “So driving retention and engagement becomes about relevancy. It’s about becoming more and more relevant to customers on more occasions throughout the year when they hit that moment of craving.”

To build relevancy, KFC relies on user data to enhance its customer journey. The modern consumer knows brands are collecting their data, Ashley notes, and they generally have high expectations on how those brands use it.

To meet these high expectations and better foster loyalty, KFC makes a point of taking a customer-first approach:

  • KFC's Australia team divides customers into seven segments based on their purchase value, usual order time, and adventurousness. Analyzing data shows whether other customer engagement opportunities exist, and then their team leverages both Braze Content Cards, a customizable channel of persistent messaging that can be viewed seamlessly within your app or web experience, and in-app messaging to highlight offers personalized to each user’s unique behaviors.

  • The KFC South Africa team was looking for a way to excite and engage their customers without launching a mobile app. Their solution? Using the Braze customer engagement platform to create and showcase reward badges that customers in the market could earn over time by trying out new menu items.

Two Ways KFC Drives Monetization

The final piece of a successful customer lifecycle strategy is monetization, which occurs as a direct result of activation and retention. When a business is able to engage and maintain its audience, it is significantly easier for marketers to build deeper relationships and effectively monetize both new and existing customers.

As with retention, Ashley recommends leveraging customer data to enrich and inform your monetization strategy. After all, knowing where to lead your customers in their journey requires a holistic understanding of how they're interacting with your brand.

Here are two ways KFC has effectively leveraged customer engagement to drive monetization:

  • The KFC Trinidad and Tobago team looked at a specific time period after customers downloaded the company’s mobile app and found that the average customer placed one order. Building on this insight, the team utilized data to introduce personalized journeys and offers to users with the goal of increasing revenue opportunities. The result? Order frequency doubled.

  • KFC US partnered with the video game Diablo IV for a limited promotion. Customers who reached a certain purchase threshold at KFC received promo codes within the Diablo game for exclusive in-game content. This collaboration attracted significant attention, encouraged mutual fans of the two brands to increase spending, and brought new customers into the KFC digital ecosystem, providing additional monetization opportunities going forward.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s welcoming new customers or making sure their food is the first thing you think of when a craving hits, KFC targets customers at every stage of the user journey with its comprehensive lifecycle strategy. With thoughtful personalization, cross-channel efforts, and defined goals, this leading global brand continues to demonstrate that effective customer engagement can drive sustainable success.

Want to learn how other leading brands and digital professionals find success with their customer engagement strategies? Access more highlights from this year’s Forge conference.


Team Braze

Team Braze

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