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In the West, holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas represent huge sales opportunities for a variety of sellers. Refusing to be limited by geography though, KFC has found a way to increase its sales dramatically by introducing Western holidays to other cultures.

In China for example, it sells an egg-based custard inside a pastry shell, called Egg Tarts. Last year, it sold 300 million, accounting for $200 million in sales, and the vast majority of them sold on and around Valentine’s Day. KFC encourages other familiar Western declarations of love, such as its love song promotion. Customers to can go online to choose a song, date, time, and location, and KFC will make sure the song is playing when the loving couple arrives.

KFC seems to have cornered the market on romance, but its partner chain Pizza Hut (both are owned by Yum Brands) dresses employees like Santa around Christmas time and offers special holiday-themed meals. Around Easter, employees sport bunny ears, and children can paint eggs. Not to be left out, Halloween and Father’s Day prompt similarly themed offerings.

The success of these promotions seems somewhat surprising. First, cultural gaps can complicate the celebration of an unfamiliar holiday. Second, activists in other countries often protest the spread and commercialization of Western holidays, which seem to supplant their native celebrations. And yet consumers apparently cannot get enough Egg Tarts.

Discussion Question: Does the success of these holiday-themed promotions surprise you? Why or why not?

Julie Jargon and Laurie Burkitt, “KFC’s Recipe for Love in China: The Egg Tart,” The Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2011.