In China’s Small Towns, KFC Brews a New Coffee Culture with KCOFFEE Stores

November 21 16:00 2023

The story of coffee in China is changing. Once perceived as synonymous with urban lifestyles and confined to the hustle and bustle of major cities, coffee is now making its way into the country’s smaller towns. The “2023 China Coffee Market Insight Report” underscores this shift, highlighting a staggering 250% rise in coffee orders from fourth and fifth-tier cities. This trend is part of a broader awakening across a market that spans over 1,800 county towns and cities, home to around 250 million potential coffee enthusiasts.

In response to this evolving coffee landscape, KFC is expanding its presence to meet the growing demand for coffee in the less-explored smaller cities and towns of the country. On November 11, alongside its KFC restaurant, KFC unveiled a KCOFFEE store in Shangyou County, Jiangxi Province. This initiative, part of a broader strategy initiated earlier this year, aims to introduce independent coffee stores in these emerging markets.

KFC’s selection of these small, yet economically thriving towns for its K-COFFEE outlets is intentional. Take Shangyou County for instance, renowned for its hydropower, tourism, and tea industries, boasting a substantial GDP of Rmb 11.2 billion. The county, bustling with over 300,000 residents, exemplifies the latent potential embedded in China’s smaller towns. The recently opened K-COFFEE store, strategically situated in the town’s commercial heart and overlooking key local attractions, is more than a café; it stands as a distinctive new landmark in the town.

Located alongside KFC restaurants, KCOFFEE stores seamlessly blend the familiar with the innovative. Sporting KFC’s classic red and white colors and the distinctive KCOFFEE signage, these approximately 50-square-meter spaces provide a cozy retreat. The menu, thoughtfully tailored to local preferences and affordability, features delights like sea salt caramel lattes and hand-shaken apricot Americanos appealing to those seeking an urban café experience.

For locals like Xiao Guo from Yingcheng, Hubei Province, KCOFFEE has bridged a gap. “In Wuhan, I used to enjoy a daily coffee,” she shares. “I longed for that in Yingcheng. Now, KCOFFEE has become my go-to place.” In these small towns, KCOFFEE has quickly become a central hub for the community—a space where people come together to unwind and create lasting memories.

KCOFFEE’s impact extends beyond introducing a new lifestyle element. In towns previously untouched by the likes of KFC or any coffee shop, KCOFFEE is also creating jobs and bringing new opportunities. Xiao Yu, a barista at KCOFFEE in Gushi County, Henan Province, exemplifies this. After years in Shanghai, she returned to her hometown, attracted by the opportunities at KCOFFEE, highlighting the personal and economic transformations underway.

KFC’s foray into China’s lower tier cities with diversified formats and products mirrors the brand’s innovation and agility. This expansion is not just about tapping into a growing coffee culture; it’s about shaping it and playing a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of these communities.

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