Near the end of the winter quarter, the Medill Career Services office was pleased to have Ms. Qun Wang, Vice President, Public Affairs and Government Relations, Yum! Brands Inc. – China Division, join us for a luncheon presentation. She introduced the unique practices of Yum! Brands in China and answered many questions brought up by Medill IMC students with examples from previous cases. Some students stayed for a long time after her presentation to ask her additional questions, and they all benefited a lot from her discussion.
From Ms. Qun Wang we came to know that the Yum! China Division, which is based in Shanghai, has been running more than 3,000 restaurants since the beginning of 2005 compared to Yum! Restaurants International, which operates more than 12,000 restaurants outside the U.S. (excluding the Yum! China Division). The primary Yum! brands in China are KFC and Pizza Hut. In addition, the company’s Chinese quick-service restaurant brand, East Dawning, is also developing fast. Unlike operations in other countries, most Yum! restaurants in China are direct stores rather than franchises. We were told that this policy is in line with Yum!’s commitment to quality control and for such a huge evolving market like China, it is never easy.
Around 140 staff members from Yum! China’s headquarters and its 17 markets report to Ms. Wang. Since the practice of public relations is not yet an industry standard for corporations in China, Ms. Wang’s staff continuously faces challenges internally and externally. Ms. Wang also stated that due to the lack of powerful country-wide media and the complexity of each region’s unique characteristics, staff at Yum! China had to be highly creative and sensitive to changes in local societies.
On the topic of use of social media, Ms. Wang kindly requested suggestions and viewpoints from IMC students. Yum! China was aware of the importance of newer media and had already dealt with an unfavorable crisis started by a blogger. Ms. Wang felt highly interested in the latest developments in the U.S. in this regard and looked forward to constructive contributions from IMC students. For Yum! China, work on social media was still developmental and not yet playing a significant role for business. Nevertheless Ms. Wang affirmed, “…but we have been keeping an eye on it.”
To the students’ excitement, Yum! China Division had created two residency projects to work on this summer in Shanghai. One of the projects will require student teams to build integrated marketing and communication plans for KFC’s summer beverage business and the other one will look to improve of Pizza Hut’s Dine-In business. On this topic Ms. Wang ended by saying, “We are really looking forward to meeting you and working with you soon!”