Executive Vice President Marketing and Food Innovations
Yum! Brands (KFC)
What makes you optimistic about the economy?
In the short-term I believe that we still will be facing some major challenges. We tend to forget that we are facing the biggest crisis we’ve had since the Depression. Information moves so quickly these days that the events of last summer regarding Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and other firms seem to be further away than they are in reality. What makes me feel optimistic is that some countries in Europe, such as Germany, begin to show positive signs and a potential turnaround. But I am afraid the economy will be on a rollercoaster ride for quite some time. That is why at KFC we continue to be very focused on delivering great value to our customers.
"At KFC we pride ourselves on being customer maniacs. In the service industry this is and will continue to be the most important touchpoint."
How do you see the marketing of brands changing in the next five to 10 years?
Marketing is moving away from focusing on the "biggest common denominator" to what I call "the smallest common denominator." Brands will be built and destroyed through the movement of information via fragmented media channels at a speed we have never seen before. The global nature of the brands combined with the depth of information consumers have in this day and age will require us to stay on top of the trends. Brands that have a deep connection with consumers and adapt the fastest to the changing times will be the winners.
What unpredictable factor most impacted how you managed your brand in the past decade?
The ever-changing media landscape and consumers’ “passion points” most impacted how we managed the brand. Think for a second on how the consumption of music has changed—many times and many ways in the last four years—or how social media has grown from zero to probably the most influential channel these days. Think how cable evolved from a multitude of channels with no differentiation, to a clearly differentiated set of channels with some of the highest rated shows last year. New business segments are created and destroyed in a matter of a couple of years—sometimes in less time.
Is there a single touchpoint of your brand that you think will be more influential to your consumers in the next five years?
At KFC we pride ourselves on being customer maniacs. In the service industry this is and will continue to be the most important touchpoint. We have to excel and come up with different and innovative ways to provide the best consumer experience. In a way we are lucky, because we literally control the touchpoint and therefore the outcome.
What points can you share from your experiences that contribute in building a successful brand?
Stay relentless in uncovering new consumer insights. Proactively attack the biggest barriers your brand faces. Take a holistic approach to marketing...the business is marketing and marketing is the business. Contemporize your brand equity and don’t lose relevance. Innovate, innovate, and innovate!
Javier Benito is Executive Vice President Marketing and Food Innovations at Yum! Brands (KFC). Before his position at Yum! Brands, Benito was responsible for marketing the Westin, Sheraton, St. Regis, and W Hotels—in total, 750 properties in more than 80 countries. Prior to this, he served as Chief Marketing Officer for Coca- Cola North America, where he launched Diet Coke with Lime and Coca-Cola C2. Benito also worked in the United States and Spain for Proctor & Gamble.