U.S | Yum! Brands Digital Presence Continues to Explode

According to CFO Chris Turner, there isn’t one overwhelming driver of Yum! Brands’ record-breaking $22 billion in digital sales last year, strength comes from all four brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Habit Burger Grill) and all channels.

The company finished the year with more than 45,000 restaurants offering delivery, representing more than a 25 percent lift year-over-year. Carryout also expanded, with more customers using Yum!’s “Click and Collect” online platforms. Even inside dining rooms, restaurants have seen growth in the kiosk business, especially at Taco Bell.

Yum!’s $22 billion benchmark was up from $17 billion in 2020. In the fourth quarter alone, the company earned more than $6 billion in digital sales.

“As we said before, COVID accelerated those trends and we’re glad that we were in a great position to be able to capitalize on it,” said Turner.

“But whenever you nearly double your digital sales in two years, I think that’s evidence that those investments are paying off.”

KFC U.S.’s digital sales soared 70 percent year-over-year in 2021, driven by its delivery service channel and e-commerce platform that launched nationwide early last year. In Q4, the brand rolled out Quick Pick-Up, in which customers can skip the drive-thru and grab mobile orders out of cubbies inside the restaurant.

At Taco Bell, the focus continues to be drive-thru. The channel was two seconds faster year-over-year in Q4, marking the eighth straight quarter of an average time under four minutes—an impressive feat, considering ongoing labour challenges and spikes of Omicron cases.

Taco Bell’s digital channels crossed $1 billion in 2020. The chain's rewards program rolled out in July 2020, and by the one-year anniversary, app sales increased 90 percent and sign-ups for the program grew 5x more than the first month. To elevate Taco Bell Rewards even further, the brand launched Taco Lovers Pass, a new subscription program giving customers the opportunity to pay $10 to get a free taco every day in a 30-day period.

“Clearly, those strong digital numbers come as a result of the investments we’ve been making and our strategy around digital because we knew this was the future of the industry,” Turner continued.

The acceleration is fuelled by strategies aimed at elevating customer and employee experiences.

For example, in Pizza Hut’s international markets, Yum! continued the rollout of HutBot, a coaching app helping restaurants achieve operational objectives. At the end of 2021, the tech was live in more than 6,000 Pizza Hut locations in 70 markets.

"The impressive adoption rates of these technology platforms are evidence of our franchisees’ confidence and the investments we made to advance our digital and technology ecosystem this year,” concluded Turner.

“We’re confident these investments have created a meaningful competitive advantage and will be a point of differentiation for YUM as we serve the elevated expectations of customers.”