Myanmar might need more electricity, medical equipment, and financial services, but at least it’s got a KFC now. The nation’s first major US fast-food outlet opened in Yangon yesterday, and by lunchtime people were forming long lines to get in.
Businessman Kyaw Moe queued for three hours to buy chicken for his family from KFC, which has restaurants in 120 countries. “It is internationally famous, so I think it must be healthy,” he said.
Foreign fast-food outlets are not completely new in Yangon. South Korean burger chain Lotteria opened in 2013 and now has more than a half-dozen outlets in Myanmar.
And such first-mover advantage in an under-penetrated market can pay off for years in customer loyalty. Dunkin’ Donuts opened an Indonesian outlet in Jakarta in 1985. While the franchise today faces a host of local and foreign competitors in Indonesia—and has hundreds of outlets across the nation—back then it offered a brand-new premium experience. Its donuts worked their way into the cultural tradition of bringing oleh-oleh—small gifts from a recently visited place—back to one’s village.
KFC could make a similar impression in Myanmar, also known as Burma. “Now young people here can eat like young people in other countries,” 18-year-old student Htet Ei told AFP. “I’ll always come here.”