Japan has admired the United States in many ways since the end of World War Two and that includes when it comes to Christmas traditions.
One of those traditions is giving a huge boost to the earnings of a major American company: Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The KFC Legend
KFC has become incredibly popular in Japan, boosting sales for the fast food company majorly and making CEOs very happy.
KFC has been active in Japan for over 50 years and has grown in popularity year by year, but recently, it’s become even more successful in Japan.
In fact, this year in 2022, the chain had the highest sales figures in the past half-century. Christmas Eve Day saw the most sales at KFC for the whole year, 1,000% more than the average sales day during the year.
There’s no doubt that KFC has become a Japanese holiday tradition, but why?
— Cultura Colectiva+ (@ccplus) December 25, 2022
Why is KFC So Popular in Japan?
KFC began opening restaurants in Japan in the 1970s and grew in popularity year by year.
When it comes to Christmas, many Japanese celebrate, including non-Christians. Though traditions such as turkey dinner are a bit trickier, since turkey isn’t a meat that’s very available in Japan.
Many began turning to KFC to supply the closest equivalent: delicious chicken. In addition, the link with the United States and clever marketing by KFC with the image of Colonel Sanders and his similarity to Santa Claus have bolstered the marketing success.
The advertising of “Kentucky for Christmas” has become more and more popular in Japan over the years, with lines stretching on and on as people crowd for their Christmas cheer.
Today, KFC in Japan will sell 5-10x more chicken than any day of the year.
Millions of Japanese citizens will line up for their bucket of Christmas Eve fried chicken.
Here's the story behind this annual tradition: pic.twitter.com/SFF2CIOsf0
— The Wolf of Franchises 🍟 (@franchisewolf) December 24, 2022
A Kentucky Christmas
A Kentucky Christmas in Japan starts with a bucket of fried chicken, a glass of wine, and is often shared at Christmas gatherings and parties.
Since the original early days of the marketing concept, a Kentucky Christmas has become something truly special, with more and more special deals, discounts, and varieties of options.
Many people in Japan order KFC months ahead so that they will be able to come to pick up their order in time for Christmas and not have to wait hours in line.
KFC Japan made $53 million USD in 2019 alone, and profits have only gone up since then.
While only about 1% of Japan is actually Christian, many more of the population celebrate Christmas more as a cultural festival and as a time to spend together with family and give gifts.
As the popularity of KFC continues to grow, it raises interesting questions about the true meaning of Christmas and how people celebrate it around the world.
Is Christmas destined to become a more cultural festival or will it keep its Christian beliefs front and center?