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  • Writer's pictureBruce Crandall

MDI and KFC: Using data to improve the bottom line and corporate culture

We enjoy working with clients large and small. Our relationship with KFC is worth highlighting. Several years ago we developed a research protocol with YUM! Brands that allowed us to quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively field a broad array of studies like concept testing, brand tracking, and customer experience across multiple countries and languages. Four years and several hundred projects later, we caught up with Luiz Perl, Chief Marketing Officer, to ask his observations about our work with KFC.

Luiz Perl, CMO, KFC Latin America & Caribbean

Here are a few excerpts from that conversation…

How did you originally decide to work with MDI?

“KFC operates a franchise business in 41 countries and 1,400 stores. Many are run by owners who've been in the business a long time. Some ran their businesses based on experience, but also on intuition—'this is what you need to do’—and all of that. We were hoping to make the decision-process more scientific across the board. We heard good things about MDI, about your ability to drive results quickly in an efficient way. That’s what we wanted for our scale of business. And you’ve delivered.”

How have your franchisees changed the way they do business over the last few years, if at all?

“We’ve learned through your work that there’s another, better way. We think more strategically now, listen to the voice of the consumer. We're listening to 300 or 400 people in a study and that feedback’s worth gold. Not only are we getting information that drives better business, but we've also changed the culture—even those of us who’ve been around for a very long time.
Facts make the decision process clean and efficient. And there's a correlation with our business getting stronger and stronger. We’re now driving decisions through data. Earlier we may have launched what we thought was right, but now the data tells us what’s our best bet.”

What surprises have come out of our partnership with you?

"I've been with KFC for 13 years and the biggest surprise is how quickly those of us who’ve been here a long time have now pivoted to appreciate and almost demand research data to make decisions. Many have now become advocates, saying ‘look, don't come here and tell me what you think is right. Do your concept test and come back to me in three days and then we'll make a decision.’
Sometimes I’ll even say, ‘we don't need research. It's going to be this product or that product. No brainer.’ And then the research comes out with a totally different answer! The good news is that all of us now go with what consumers tell us.”

Why do you continue to work with MDI?

“You’ve been invaluable in changing culture, in offering an efficient process, in speed, and in reducing cost. That's the reason why our partnership is where it is and continues to grow, even with the challenges we have right now. In fact, you guys were already working virtually while the entire world had to pivot. But we had specific deliverables that needed to be tested. In a non-virtual world, that wouldn’t have happened, or would have taken so long that we’d have missed the boat on moving things forward. So the way you guys already operated allowed things to run seamlessly during the pandemic.
Our relationship with MDI has been very open, very transparent, on both sides. Amid the virus, we talked candidly about what we could afford, what we couldn't, and what that meant for the rest of the year. You guys were also open to us about the implications to your own business. But even during the turmoil, the quality of your service didn’t go down. So we really appreciated that and came to a solution that worked for all of us.”


Intuition and gut-feel can shape corporate culture for the better or worse. But a culture that relies on fast, efficient, accurate, and cost-effective data makes business decisions far more easily, clearly, and profitably.

About MDI

We’re all about you… Strategic. Fast. Value-driven. Clear. In the moment. Experienced. Resourceful. Confident. And of course, Mobile. We love collaborating, always keeping you top of mind. That’s why we’ve worked with some of the world’s biggest companies in over 40 countries—and right in your own neighborhood.


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