A study of consumer demand for healthier alternatives


Prepared For: Mr Jamaludin bin Muhammed Ali Chief Executive Officer KFC Corporation


Prepared For: Mr Jamaludin bin Muhammed Ali Chief Executive Officer KFC Corporation

Prepared By: Angeline Leong Chan Yong Ming Jasper Lim Kimberley Thong Tan Fang Xian International Business / Year 2 / TZ01

Date of submission: June 3 2011

Ngee Ann Polytechnic 535, Clementi Road, S599489

TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary ……………………………………………………………… vi CHAPTER 1: Introduction …………………………………………………… 1 CHAPTER 2: Findings and Analysis …………………………..…………….. 4 2.1: Public’s view about fast food …………………………………. 4 2.1.1 Trend of fast food consumption ………………………. 4 2.1.2 Public opinion ………………………………………… 5 2.1.3 Health concern in KFC meals ………………………… 6 2.1.4 Consequences of unhealthy fast food …………………. 7 2.1.5 Evidence of unhealthy fast food ……………………… 7 2.2: Factors for dining at fast food restaurants …………………….. 8 2.2.1 Quick and short waiting time …………………………. 9 2.2.2 Good taste of fast food ………………………………. 10

2.2.3 Low cost ……………………………………………… 11 2.3: Consumer demand for healthier alternatives ………………...... 12 2.3.1 Public’s high importance on food health quality …….. 12 2.3.2 Effect of unexpected situational factors ……………… 13 2.4: Tradeoffs consumers are willing to give up for healthier food .. 14 2.4.1 Willingness to pay more for healthier food …………… 14 2.4.2 Willingness to wait ……………………………………. 15 2.4.3 Acceptance of change in food taste ………………….. 16 2.4.4 Frequency of KFC after introduction of healthier food .. 17 2.5: Evaluation of healthier alternatives ……………………………. 17 2.5.1 Change in cooking oil …………………………………. 17

2.5.2 Addition of fruits and vegetables to the menu ………… 19 2.5.3 Herbal Tea ……………………………………………. 19 CHAPTER 3: Conclusion ……………………………………………………... 20 CHAPTER 4: Recommendations …………………………………………….. 21 4.1 Revision of current menu ……………………………………… 21 4.2 Addition of healthier alternatives ……………………………… 22 4.3 Marketing strategies ……………………………………………. 23 APPENDIX A: Questionnaires …………………………………………………. 25 APPENDIX B: Demographic information …………………………………….. 28 References ………………………………………………………………………... 31

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


This report aims to analyze and evaluate healthier alternatives and their profitability in the fast food industry. Method of research includes getting primary data from street surveys and face-toface interviews conducted at Bishan Junction 8, as well as a plethora of secondary resources inclusive of published academic journals, online books and newspaper articles.

The limitations of the analysis in this report are reliability, comparability of data and the possible interviewer bias, small sample size, unwillingness of respondents to reveal truthful opinions as well as language barriers.

KFC’s fast food has a poor rapport among the public in terms of health quality. However, the public continues to dine at fast food chains due to its efficient queue systems and strategically located outlets. Additives such as artificial flavouring prove to be health hazards. The issue of high fat content in fast food is a contributing factor to the rise of heart disease, which is the second most common cause of death in Singapore.

The health detriments of consuming fast food have led to an increasing demand for healthier alternatives in fast food restaurants. About 54% of the respondents listed health quality as one of their top priorities in evaluating options for dining out. Singaporeans are becoming progressively health conscious as they hold their well-being in high regard. In general, there is an inclination to the idea of healthier alternatives served at a fast food restaurant by the sample.

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons


Consumers are willing to pay more and spend more time waiting in order for food to be prepared in a healthier way. However, minority of the sample is not willing to compromise the taste of fast food so that it can be healthier. Generally, consumers will be receptive to the introduction of healthier food.

In order to sustain the business in the long term basis, KFC could introduce healthier alternatives to their existing menu so as to encourage smart consumer buying decision. Additionally, KFC could possibly induce a change in production methods such as using non-hydrogenated corn oil or adding fruits and vegetables into the menu. From the sample, only a handful of people reflected that the low cost of fast food is the main drive for them to patronize fast food, thus there is great potential in exploring the possibility of introducing healthier alternatives in fast food restaurants to increase its profitability despite the increase in cost.

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons CHAPTER 1: Introduction Purpose The purpose of this report is to evaluate how Singaporean consumers respond to healthier alternatives in fast food restaurants so that KFC can better understand consumer buying behaviour, thereby implementing the best marketing strategy to appeal to more consumers and increasing their profit margins. Scope


The report examines public’s opinions about health quality of fast food, the factors for dining at fast food restaurants, trade-offs consumer are willing to give up for healthier alternatives, and the evaluation of consumer demand of possible healthier alternatives of fast food. With the data collected, we can understand how consumers feel about KFC’s products and recommend strategies to improve branding and profitability for the company.

Research Methodology Research is conducted through secondary and primary channels. Secondary data sources are information gathered that exists somewhere, being collected by someone other than the user himself. This report referred to resources such as Internet, published journals, case studies, online books, and university articles. Primary data consists of information gathered for a specific report plan, which is the data collected specifically in relation to the topic of this report. Primary data for this report is collected through face to face surveys and personal interviews. The street survey was conducted on a public holiday, May 17, 2011 outside Bishan Junction 8 Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 2

shopping mall. The target audiences for the survey were 3 main groups of people, the teenagers (13 to 20 years old), the adults (21 to 49 years old) and the elderly (above 50 years old). The survey was completed by 97 respondents and they were asked to fill up a two page survey, as attached in the Appendix.

Limitations of research SECONDARY DATA: Reliability of data Secondary data sources especially from the Internet may be unreliable, as anyone can write or edit sources from the internet. Statistics reported online may sometimes be too optimistic, reflecting the organization projection of its research capability and pride instead of realistic statistical figures. Comparability of data Comparability of secondary data is another limitation because researches found online are conducted by different groups of people, with different purposes for the report. This could mean that the report may be too broad to be of specific value, reflecting the author’s personal opinion rather than practical reality.

PRIMARY DATA: Sample size Surveys are the most widely used method to find out about preferences and consumer behaviour. A sample size of 97 respondents was included in our report, however it is far from the recommended, 500 sample size, to draw a reasonable conclusion about the population. Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 3

Privacy Concerns There may be unwillingness of respondents to give an honest and truthful answer. In Singapore, our culture prohibits us from expressing our truthful opinions to strangers in the streets. For the survey, people might be reluctant to share their true eating habits. Due to privacy concerns, one might also be unwilling to answer questions that are related to their finance planning, for example “how much more are you willing to pay for healthier fast food?” Structured response questions These types of question in the surveys are subjected to the choice of respondents. In the case where the respondents disagree with the options available, they are still forced to pick one amongst the choices provided in the questionnaire. Sampling equivalence The emotional concepts measured in the survey might not be equivalent across different social backgrounds of people in Singapore. For example, ‘unhealthy’ for an individual may not be “unhealthy” in another individuals’ opinion. Language Barrier While conducting face to face survey, some people are not able to comprehend the questions due to language barrier. When translation is done, it could be biased as some words do not have an exact word in the language to be translated to. As for surveys, it is limited to gathering the responses from a sample with a certain literacy rate. However, this limitation is not a major issue in Singapore which has a literacy rate of 95.9%, according to statistics from Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons CHAPTER 2: Findings and Analysis 2.1 Public’s view about fast food


2.1.1 Trend of Fast Food Consumption In the current fast-paced society, demand for more convenient meals is increasing. However, after a boom in the number of fast food chains worldwide, people became more aware of the food that they consume. People became more health-conscious and begin to wonder how fast food might affect their health and are concerned over the safety aspect of the food supply. Although awareness of the importance of proper diet increased, fast-food, snacks and soft-drink consumption is still on the rise. Many people are already unable to meet the recommended dietary allowance for nutrients, and yet consume too much calorie, causing the problem of obesity. Obesity occurs when the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the body is more than or equal to 30. Obesity prevalence in Singapore was 5.1% in year 1992, however in year 2004, prevalence of obesity increased by 1.8% of the population, resulting in 6.9% of the population classified as obese. (Low, et al., 2009)

86.5% of teenagers between ages 13 to 20 from our sample are aware that fast food is not healthy option. A study funded by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute (2004) in the United States found out that young adults after the age of 15, who frequents fast food restaurants gain more weight, and have twice as much insulin resistance as those teenagers who visits fast food restaurants less than once a week. Insulin resistance is a common sign of type 2 diabetes, and is a

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons huge risk of heart disease. The study demonstrates the negative health impacts fast food consumption has on the human body.



2.1.2 Public Opinion Figure 1

A survey done outside Bishan Junction 8 revealed that 86.5% of teenagers surveyed felt that the health quality of KFC’s food products is unhealthy. The other respondents feel that fast food was healthy. 87% of the adults surveyed, felt that fast food meals KFC served was unhealthy, while there were 2 respondents who stated that they felt KFC’s food was acceptably healthy. There is a general consensus among both teenagers and adults that the health quality of KFC’s food is unhealthy and that the most serious health concern of fast food is the oil, followed by high calorie and fat content, lastly high sodium content.

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 2.1.3 Health concern in KFC meals Majority of the working population felt that fast food is unhealthy and more than half of the respondents have avoided KFC due to health concerns at least once. Similar to the findings of


teenagers, most of the adult respondents agreed that the most serious health concern of fast food is the oil, followed by calorie and fat content, and high sodium content. Figure 2 When asked about the most serious health concern in fast food, 49% of respondents felt that it was too oily, while 11% and 24% felt that fast food contains too much sodium content and fat content respectively. The other 16% of our sample felt that it has high calorie content and is high in artificial flavourings, colours and preservatives.

From the findings, teenagers are most concerned about oily fast food. Fast food chains are known to use hydrogenated cooking oil, and regular consumption of such food products poses major health risk to consumers. Besides, fast food is frowned upon by many is because of its high calorie content due to usage of refined sugar and fats.

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 2.1.4 Consequences of unhealthy fast food High sodium content in fast food is linked to the increase risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), a condition where a large force of blood continuously pushes against the walls of the arteries. It is a serious condition that leads to other health problems such as coronary heart disease, kidney failure and stroke.


Meat from fast food is high in cholesterol, it causes the accumulation of bad cholesterol in one’s body which causing the thickening or clogging of the arteries. The obstruction of blood flow to the body can cause heart attack, or heart failure in extreme cases of complete artery blockage. Trans fat is the worst type of fat, and can be found in most processed fast food. They are unnatural fats that are believed to be responsible for the significant increase in Ischaemic heart disease. Ischaemic heart disease is the second most common cause of death of Singaporeans. Based on the Ministry of Health Singapore (2009), 29.3% of death is due to Ischaemic disease.

Obesity is the most commonly spotted side effects of too much consumption of unhealthy food, coupled with little or no exercise. The body accumulates fats that are not used up if a person is physically inactive. Besides the risk of many diseases, it may pose as a physical discomfort with the extra weight, in turn leading to lowered self-confidence and other unhealthy side effects to the body and mind.


2.1.5 Evidence of unhealthy fast food The repeated heating of food at high temperatures causes the arteries to be blocked in long run, and the high sodium content from common salt and other additives worsen the health standards

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons of KFC meals. Additionally, fast food is lacking of essential nutrients and dietary fibre, and set meals are often served with sugared soft drinks. (Health food guide, 2010)


Manhattan’s artist, Sally Davies did a test on MacDonald’s Happy meal. She left the meal on her apartment shelf and took photos of the Happy meal each day. She observed on that the food did not emit anymore smell on day 2, and expected that the food will decompose after 2 weeks. To her shock, after 6 months of leaving the food alone, the overall appearance of the food did not change, with no signs of decomposition or any moulds. She then claimed that the fast food is indestructible. This is a prime example, showing the amount of preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients that is present in fast food, that enables fast food corporations like MacDonald's and KFC to keep the processed food in the same condition for more than half a year. It shows the possibility of fast food being left at the kitchen for months before buyers around the world would consume it. · 2.2 Factors for dining at fast food restaurants This section states the analysis of consumer buying behaviour in the fast food market. The main reasons are consumers’ desire for the good taste of fast food meals, affordable fast food meals, convenience of fast food chains locations and its quick waiting time. Other reasons gathered

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons


from open ended questions are the good service of fast food restaurants and due to peer influence. Figure 3 2.2.1 Quick and short waiting time One barrier that hinders people from making a healthier diet decision, it is mostly likely due to time constraints. In the modern-day society, people lead such a busy lifestyle that there is no time set aside to plan, prepare or cook healthy meals. As such, it is common for convenient onthe-go meal in fast food restaurants. According to the sample, 37.5% of Singaporeans cite short waiting time as the main reason for patronizing fast food restaurants. An on-site observational research was conducted to study the behaviour of the public in fast food restaurants. As observed, fast food restaurants like KFC, Burger King and McDonalds uses the multiple-channels queuing system. It is a system whereby the customers line up in rows directly in front of each counter. They are arranged in relatively straight lines that do not converge. Generally, the customers in a multiple-channels queue are more satisfied because the queue length is shortened through distribution to different counters. This psychological factor may be one the main reasons why the waiting time of a fast food restaurant is deemed as “quick and short”. Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 2.2.2 Good taste of fast food Patronizing a fast food restaurant due to convenience of its location and the taste of fast food desired by consumers are on par, according to our survey. Approximately 27% of survey respondents felt that the main reason for patronizing fast food restaurant is that it has convenient access, the same percentage of the survey respondents also felt that the main reason is the good taste of fast food. 10

Research in the United States has found that people get addicted to the taste of popular fast food as it contains just the right mixture of fat, sugar and salt to set off the pleasure chemicals in the brain. Experiments carried on lab rats showed that when they were fed a diet that consisted of 25% sugar – and then the sugar is removed, the rats become anxious, their teeth start to chatter and they suffer with the shakes, that is not unlike people going through a nicotine or morphine withdrawal. Researchers also noticed long lasting changes in brain chemistry of rats fed with foods that had a combination of sweet, salt and fat, which led to the conclusion that there was a possibility that people could go through brain changes and become physically addicted to eating fast food. (Schlosser, 2001)

Both “natural flavour” and “artificial flavour” are man-made additives that give the taste of most processed food. People’s first purchase is usually accounted by the food’s packaging or appearance, but taste is the final determinant to repeat purchases. About 90 per cent of the money that Americans now spend on food goes to buy processed food. The canning, freezing, and dehydrating techniques used in processing destroy most of food's flavour, and so a vast industry has arisen in the United States to make processed food palatable. Without this flavour Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 11

industry today's fast food would not exist. The names of the leading American fast-food chains and their best-selling menu items have become embedded in our popular culture and are famous worldwide. However, very little people are able to name the companies that manufacture fast food’s taste, this shows that people do not know about the origins of artificial fast food taste. The American flavour industry now has annual revenues of about $1.4 billion. Approximately 10,000 new processed-food products are introduced every year in the United States. (Houghton-Mifflin, 2001) Thus, we infer that this may be linked to KFC’s ‘secret blend’ of herbs and spices.

2.2.3 Low cost Fast food is an epitome of a familiar food being transformed into a highly processed industrial commodity. As demand increases, fast food restaurant managements seek mass production, leading to lower cost of food through economies of scale. This profit driven act neglects the health standards of fast food. A reasonably low 7% of the sample cites cost of fast food as the main reason for patronizing a fast food restaurant, this means that a low number of people are primarily focused on the low cost of fast food. This result poses a positive encouragement to our project topic in exploring the possibility of introducing healthier alternatives to fast food restaurants. This healthier alternative introduction may inevitably cause a rise in prices of the fast food.

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 2.3 Consumer demand for healthier alternatives 2.3.1 Public’s high importance on food health quality Figure 4


About 29% of the respondents placed healthy food in their top priority when considering a place to dine in; other factors include cost, service, taste, menu selection, and convenient location. In total, 54% of the respondents have listed health quality of the food as one of their top two factors, making it an important factor.

It shows that many consumers have a health-conscious mentality, therefore it is imperative that the industry cater to this large market segment. The strong demand for healthier alternatives is further demonstrated by the public’s willingness to pay more, wait longer and even accept a change in the taste of the original product, in order to receive a healthier meal.

Upon evaluating the responses, it is apparent that people avoid dining at fast food restaurants Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 13

because of health concerns. If this worry was reduced, there would be significantly more people choosing to dine at KFC More than two-thirds of the responses stated that they would purchase the healthier alternatives as well as dine at fast food restaurants more frequently if more of these choices were implemented. The demand for healthier alternatives stems from their worries that fast food is high in salt, preservatives and fat content - with oiliness being the leading factor. The test group unanimously affirmed that these health concerns existed when they are purchasing fast food.

2.3.2 Effect of unexpected situational factors According to the survey results, the adults and the youth are the most frequent diners of fast food restaurants, visiting them at least once a week. Youths and elderly continue to dine at fast food restaurants due to its convenience and efficiency of services.

After extensive research, it can be concluded that the primary reason for dining at fast food restaurants are due to situational factors such as time constraints and the ease of convenience as these fast food chains are conveniently located across the island. Secondary reasons are its low cost and good taste.

As such, it can be inferred that there is demand a healthier food from the public and thus a promising market for it. The reasons for the popularity of these restaurants are their strategic locations and efficient service. There is such a preference, however, because of these situational factors such as convenience and time, the people are restricted to purchase the healthier option. These fast food diners may form an intention to eat healthily initially, however Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons these unexpected situational factors affect the consumer’s buying behaviour. The unexpected events may change the purchase intention. Thus, preferences and even purchase intentions do not always result in actual purchase choice. 14

These fast food chains can serve as a distribution channel for the quick healthy meals that the market demands. 2.4 Tradeoffs consumers are willing to give up for healthier food The core focus of this section will be the investigation and analysis of how consumers react, and the degree of change they willing to accept if fast food restaurants decide to introduce healthier alternatives. 2.4.1 Willingness to pay more for healthier food Figure 5 Consumers are receptive to the notion of forking out extra cash for healthier alternatives. Out of 97 respondents, none of them are reluctant to spend more on healthier options in KFC, providing a good indication of a viable business not just for KFC, but for the whole fast food industry. Out Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 15

of 97 respondents, around 44% of them are willing to pay $1-2 more for healthier food choices, while 39% of them have a slightly wider budget, offering to pay $3-5 more for the same benefits. 12% of people surveyed however, are only willing to a pay minimal amount of less than $1 for

these healthier alternatives, though the remaining 5% are willing to fork out a significant amount of more than $5 on them. However, the results differ for each market segment. More teenagers and elderly are willing to fork out between $1-2 compared to the other price ranges, while more adults are doing it for $35. One possible reason could be the difference in purchasing power of the different market segments. Adults generally have a more stable income compared to people from other age group, and thus are able and willing to spend more than their counterparts. 2.4.2 Willingness to wait Figure 6 Consumers believe that healthier alternative of fast food is worth waiting for. On a whole, there is a greater percentage of people who can afford to wait 5-10 minutes more than usual waiting time, with 44% in that category. 36% would wait less than 5 minutes, 14% would wait for 10-15 minutes whereas the minority are alright with waiting more than 15 minutes. Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 16

However, the distribution of the data differs for the different market segments. The peak of the working population distribution falls within the range of less than 5 minutes, while that of the teenagers and elderly population falls between the range of 5-10 minutes. A possible reason could be time equates to money for the majority of the working population. They are not willing to wait for the healthier alternative as it defeats the purpose of them getting fast food. 2.4.3 Acceptance of change in food taste Figure 7 There is a general acceptance of the change in taste of fast food if it were to be served in a healthier way. 89% of the respondents are willing to do so, while the rest do not welcome the change. This seem to hint that people do not prioritize taste as the main factor when visiting fast food restaurants, and are receptive to a change in taste of food, which could spell good news for

fast food restaurants in general, as they will not be restricted when experimenting with new recipes

. Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 2.4.4 Frequency of KFC after introduction of healthier food Figure 8 There has also been a general consensus among the public that they will visit KFC more if healthier food is offered. From what we have garnered from our survey, 82% of the respondents would increase their frequency of patronage if healthier options are available in the menus. This is definitely a good sign for KFC as an increase in patronage would translate into more revenue and ultimately more profits for the company. 17

From the results, it can also be concluded that people will generally buy the healthier option. 88% of the people presented a possibility of purchasing the healthier food. This is a positive indication that healthier alternatives will still be viable in the long run.

2.5 Evaluation of healthier alternatives 2.5.1 Change of cooking oil The key concern regarding the food served in KFC was that consumers felt the quality and Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons quantity of oil used in preparing the meals did not fit into a healthy standard. Additionally, fat content is also a worrisome issue among consumers. The teenagers and adult population concurred that changing the cooking oil more often would be 18

sufficient to tackle the issue; whereas the elderly found the idea of healthier non-hydrogenated cooking oil used for deep frying, more appealing. Hydrogenated oils are known to cause fatal illnesses such as coronary heart disease due to the presence of artery-clogging trans-fat and reuse of frying oil increases risk of high blood pressure (Environmental Nutrition, 2004). There was an unanimous consensus that the oil should be changed and fat content should be reduced. KFC could achieve this by following the footsteps of the third largest fast food chain in USA Wendy’s. The restaurant has adopted a blend of non-hydrogenated corn and soy oil, containing significantly less saturated fat and almost no trans-fats. According to the patrons of Wendy’s in Florida, North Carolina, and Ontario, Canada, the change of oil did not compromise the original taste of the fries or chicken. A change in cooking oil that preserves the signature taste of KFC’s fried chicken will fulfil the nutritional requirements that consumers are concerned about. It is crucial that the core component of the food does not differ too much from its original form. Major adjustments in the altering an existing menu item may be costly because a change can affect the product processes and thus require additional capital investment. It had taken Wendy’s a total of two years and a fair amount of investment in research and development in order to formulate a healthier oil that did not affect the taste of its food.

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 2.5.2 Addition of fruits and vegetables to the menu Other suggestions such as adding fruits and vegetables to the menu are also widely received.


According to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2009), fruits and vegetables boost antioxidant

levels, and improve metal performance and cell regeneration. The fruits and vegetables can be incorporated into the menu as an optional side order, instead of whipped potato and French fries.

Table 1: Comparison of nutritional value of side orders to a garden salad Food Fat Content (gm) Sodium (mg)Carbohydrate (gm) Whipped Potato (Reg) 0.3 332 10.4 French Fries (Reg) 14.6 62 32.5 Coleslaw (Reg) 7.0 39 27.2 Burger King’s Garden Salad (Reg)3.5 90 7.0

As shown in Table 1, a garden salad (served by another fast food chain) has lower total fat content and carbohydrates compared to the average side order, as well as lesser sodium than a regular whipped potato from KFC. Moreover, the salad also comprises of fruits and vegetables that will endorse a healthier nutritional standard by providing the important vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that we need.

2.5.3 Herbal tea Another plausible suggestion is the addition of “cooling tea” also known as Chinese Herbal Tea, to its menu. It has been researched that Chinese herbal tea significantly reduced blood Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons cholesterol levels in humans and may prove safe and useful in improving metabolic syndrome and obesity (Fujita & Yamagami, 2008). Consumers agreed that they felt drinking tea together with their meals could offset the unhealthiness of deep fried food, as well as reducing their intake of sugary soft drinks such as Pepsi or Coca Cola. A positive spillover effect of this implementation is that this will allow the integration of local culture and product adaptation for the customers of KFC Singapore. 20

CHAPTER 3: Conclusion From opinion garnered from the sample, fast food meals were generally deemed unhealthy and more than half of the survey respondents have instances of avoiding dining at KFC due to health concerns. A low number of people patronize fast food restaurants due to the low cost of fast food. This result poses a positive encouragement to the report purpose in exploring the possibility of introducing healthier alternatives to fast food restaurants, as this healthier alternative introduction may inevitably cause a rise in prices of the fast food. More than half of the sample cited healthy quality as one of the top prioritized factors in selecting a place to dine at. Besides that, the popularity of fast food chains stems from their convenience of access. Thus there is a promising market for healthier alternatives introduction to fast food restaurants and can prove to be an ideal distribution channel for healthier foods.

The change of a cooking oil to fit a healthier standard is a widely received option among the consumers of fast food. A healthy blend of non-hydrogenated corn and soy oil can be used in replacement of artery-clogging hydrogenated frying oil, in order to reduce risk of coronary heart diseases. Fruits and vegetables, which are beneficial to physical and mental health, can be Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons introduced in the form of a salad. Another item that could be introduced to the menu would be herbal tea, which is proven to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and at the same time popular among Singaporeans. 21

Survey respondents said they would frequent KFC more often if there is introduction of a healthier alternative. If KFC was able to meet the needs of the population by being socially responsible, it will gain consumer’s trust and ultimately more profits. Introducing healthier alternatives will allow KFC to do sustainable business in the long term basis.

CHAPTER 4: Recommendations 4.1 Revision of current menu KFC can take steps to reduce the calorie and fat content of fast food in the existing menu. Healthier alternatives such as grilled chicken with fewer calorie, fewer fat grams and less sodium can be pushed out to the existing menu. KFC could adopt a blend of non-hydrogenated corn and soy oil, in order to reduce the amount of fat content in their food. KFC can subsequently market their food to consumers looking for a healthier fare, thereby changing the ingrained perception of fast food being filled with fat. However, this method of altering the method of cooking can be a capital-intensive investment, requiring years of research and development before being able to perfect a healthier blend of cooking oil. In addition, the new oil blend has to be tested with consumers before being officially released for public consumption. This is a time consuming and high monetary investment approach to making KFC’s food healthier. Nevertheless, the benefits that it will bring are undeniable. Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 4.2 Additions of healthier alternatives In light of the findings that consumers are willing to pay more for healthier alternatives in fast food restaurants, it is recommended that fast food restaurants like KFC come up with healthier alternatives as below. 22

Fast food meals should include more fruits and vegetables. Salads should be a choice for add-ons and salad dressing should be with lower fat content. Burgers with lettuce or the likes should increase the amount of it. There could be more Research & Development done to come up with recipes that include fruits as they have high nutrition levels and low calorie content. Fruits and

vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases.

Cooking method is also an important factor affecting health quality of fast food. Frying always translates into greater amount of oil. Boiled or baked food will be relatively healthier due to the reduction in fat and sodium content. Although fast foods rarely boil anything, baked is a possible option. Other than the popular existing Cheese Fries which is unhealthy as the fries are deep fried before being garnished in high fat content mayonnaise and the likes, KFC can implement a healthier alternative such as baked potato which can appeal to the health conscious crowd.

Instead of offering sugar-laden soda beverages with set meals, KFC can provide alternatives such as fresh fruit juices. However it is recommended that what is offered is pure fruit juice since a juice can come with very little actual fruit juice content as it is usually richly laden with sugar. KFC in Asian regions can also test the markets by adapting and localizing their choice of Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 23

drink. Marketing department can explore the possibilities of pushing out Herbal tea as one of the drinks option. Herbal teas contain properties that enable the detoxification of the body. They help to eliminate toxins from the kidneys, liver and colon, very vital organs to our overall health. Respondents from the sample felt that the “cooling effect” of herbal teas could offset, if not reduce the unhealthy effects of consumption of deep fried food.

4.3 Marketing strategies Along with the implementation of healthier alternatives and improved cooking methods, consumers also need to gain awareness and recognition of KFC’s efforts to give consumers a healthier dining experience. With proper marketing techniques, consumers can be educated on

KFC’s additional menu as well as their desire to look after the well being of its consumers.

KFC can choose to segment the consumer market such that they target consumers that go for healthy fast food. KFC stand a chance to gain a larger market share using market segmenting approach as they would have a competitive advantage in their hands. They could differentiate products from the other global fast food chains by promoting their menu as being healthy.

KFC can provide customers with nutritional contents of each item on the menu. With the effect of changes in preparation method, such as soy-based cooking oil, there will be a reduction in calories and fat content. KFC can include a column, “improvements” in KFC’s nutritional guide to show the changes in nutritional value of its menu after implementing healthy options. It gives customers a sense of trust and awareness.

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons KFC can also aim to be awarded the “healthier choice label”. In this program initiated by the


Singapore National Heart Association, food products which meet nutritional guidelines for their respective product category, that are lower in fat and sodium while higher in dietary fibre compared with other food from the same group, can be recognized as a healthier choice. KFC’s improvements and additional menu are potential food products for “healthier-choice” label in comparison to other fast food chain. As this award is regulated by the ministry of health, it is a reliable source of information that consumers will look out for when they want to choose a healthier option.

Consumers are one of the important stakeholders of a company. By listening to feedbacks of consumers, the company can gain insights into how a consumer feels about a certain food

product. KFC can allow consumers to participate in the decision-making of the company by listening to feedbacks, and letting customers feel that they can have a say and make a difference. However, for the feedback system to work out, KFC’s management team must be dedicated to go the extra mile to serve the customers and take actions on valid feedbacks from the consumers.

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons APPENDIX A: Questionnaires Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey by the business students of Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Your feedback is important to us in evaluating consumers’ demand of healthier alternatives in fast food restaurants.


This survey should only take about 5 minutes of your time. Your answers will be completely anonymous. All survey results will be published in our business report. If you have any questions about the survey, you may contact Angeline Leong at this.is.angeline@gmail.com or call 97705544. To complete this survey, please circle or tick the most applicable answer to you unless otherwise stated so.


Gender: M / F

1. What is the determining factor when you choose to dine in a restaurant? Please rank the following from 1 – 6 in the manner of importance. (6 being the most important, and 1 being the least important) ___ Convenient location ___ Low prices ___ Taste ___ Speed and services ___ Wide menu selection ___ Healthy menu choices
2. How often do you go to fast food restaurants?

Less than once a week Once a week A few times a week

At least once a day
1. What is the main reason you would dine at fast food restaurants?

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons 26 Taste Low cost Convenient location Quick and short waiting time for food Others: _____________________________________
1. Have you ever avoided KFC due to the health concerns of the food

served? Yes No

2. How do you feel about the health quality (freshness of meat, amount of

preservative, nutrients info, fat content etc) of KFC’s food products? Very healthy Healthy Somewhat unhealthy Very unhealthy 1. Which of the following do you feel is the most serious health concern in fast food? Too oily Too much sodium High fat content High calorie content High in artificial flavors, colors and preservatives Other: ______________ Do not feel any health concerns 1. How would you feel if KFC introduced healthier foods into its menu? I would definitely purchase it.

I might purchase it. I would not purchase it. No opinion

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons


1. Which of the following would you like to see in KFC to create a healthier menu? (You may select more than one) Fruits as a side order Reducing salt in food Reducing fat content Using lean meat for chicken Less gravy and sauce More vegetables in burgers Grilled (instead of deep-fried) patties Using non-hydrogenated cooking oil for deep frying Changing cooking oil more often Serve ‘cooling tea’ to offset the unhealthiness of the meals Others: _________________________
1. How much more will you be willing to pay for a healthier meal?

< $1 $1-$2 $3-$5 >$5 Not willing to pay for a healthier meal 1. How long more are you willing to wait for the healthier meal? < 5 minutes 5-10 minutes 10-15 minutes > 15 minutes 1. Are you willing to accept a change in the taste food if fast food is prepared in a healthier way? Yes No

Would you be more willing to frequent KFC more if it emphasized healthy eating? Yes No

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons


3. Are there any other ways can KFC improve their health standards?

Demographic Information
1. Healthy menu choices ranking 1 2 Teens Adults Elderly Total 5 4 0 9 6 8 1 15 3 9 7 2 18 4 9 2 2 13 5 4 5 5 14 6 5 4 20 29

2. Frequency of going to fast food restaurant < once/week Teens Adults Elderly Total 19 16 22 57 Once/ week 10 8 7 25 Few times/ week 8 5 1 14 >= Once/day 0 1 0 1

3. Reason for dining at fast food restaurant taste Cost convenience Quick and short waiting time 10 13 13 36

Teens Adults Elderly Total

14 10 3 27

3 2 2 7

9 5 12 26

4. Avoid KFC due to health concerns Teens Adults Elderly Total Yes 13 17 25 55 No 24 13 5 42

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons
5. Health quality of KFC Very unhealthy Teens 1 Adults 2 Elderly 0 Total 3 Healthy 4 2 2 8 Somewhat unhealthy 24 18 10 52

Very unhealthy 8 8 18 34

6. Most serious health concern oily Teens Adults Elderly Total 8 1 18 27 sodium 4 3 5 12 Fat content 9 10 2 21 High calorie 2 5 10 17 Artificial flavour 3 2 5 10

7. If consumers will purchase healthier foods Teens Adults Elderly Total Definitely buy 9 9 18 36 Might buy 25 16 8 49 Would not buy 3 3 0 6 No opinion 2 4 6

8. What will you like to see in KFC menu? (Results arranged in a descending order for the respective market segments) Teens: change cook oil > reduce fat content>vegetables> fruits +/ reduce salt > lean meat> grill + / non-hydrogenated cooking oils Adults: change cook oil > fruits + /vegetables > reduce fat > non-hydrogenated cooking oil > lean meat > reduce salt+/ grill patties > serve cooling tea Elderly: reduce fat > non-hydrogenated cooking oil, >reduce fat > change cooking oil > serve cooling tea> fruits as side order, use lean meat+ / less gravy > grill patties > more vegetables> use lean meat 9. Willingness to pay extra for healthier choice Teens Adults Elderly Total <$1 2 1 8 11 $1-2 19 11 12 42 $3-5 15 12 10 37 >$5 3 1 0 4 Not willing 0 0 0 0

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons
10.Willingness to wait <5m Teens 12 Adults 14 Elderly 9 Total 35 11.Accept a change in taste of Teens Adults Elderly Total Yes 34 27 26 87 5-10m 20 9 14 43 fast food 10-15m 5 2 7 14 No 3 3 4 10 >15m 1 0 0 1


12.Frequent more of KFC after introduction of healthier choice – (12) Teens Adults Elderly Total Yes 30 26 24 80 No 7 4 6 17

13.Any other ways KFC can improve? Elderly: – – – – Salad More fruits Use less oil Less fried Middle-age – – – – – Create new vegetablebased menu Less oil Healthier food Use gloves More diverse choice of menu

Examination of Consumption Habits of Fast Food Patrons


References Bruce, H. (n.d). Wendy's will be 1st fast foodie with healthier oil. USA Today. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Burger King. (2011). BURGER KING® – Menu and Nutrition. Retrieved 24 May, 2011, from BURGER KING® – HAVE IT YOUR WAY®: www.bk.com/en/us/menu-nutrition/index.html Clark, S. (2010, July 19). Why Does Fast Food Taste So Good? Retrieved from http://www.physics.nus.edu.sg/~phytaysc/articles/queue.pdf Eating at Fast-food Restaurants More than Twice Per Week is Associated with More Weight Gain and Insulin Resistance in Otherwise Healthy Young Adults. (2004, December 30). NIH News. Retrieved from http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/dec2004/nhlbi-30.htm Fast Food Effects on Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from Health Food Guide website: http://www.healthfood-guide.com/fastfood.aspx Fast Food Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from Center for Young Women’s Health website: http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/fast_food.htm Frying Oil Linked to High Blood Pressure. (2004). Environmental Nutrition, 27(1), 1. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Fujita, H., & Yamagami, T. (2008). Efficacy and Safety of Chinese Black Tea (Pu-Ehr) Extract in Healthy and Hypercholesterolemic Subjects. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, 53(1), 33-42. doi:10.1159/000153006 KFC Singapore. (2011). KFC Cares Nutritional Table. Retrieved 24 May, 2011, from Welcome to KFC: http://www.kfc.com.sg/cares-nutrition-table.php Low, S., Chin, M. C., & Yap, M. D. (2009). Review on Epidemic of Obesity. Academy of Medicine Singapore, 38(1), Retrieved from http://www.annals.edu.sg/pdf/38volno1jan2009/v38n1p57.pdf Polidori, M., Praticóc, D., Mangialasche, F., Mariani, E., Aust, O., Anlasik, T., & ... Nelles, G. (2009). High Fruit and Vegetable Intake is Positively Correlated with Antioxidant Status and Cognitive Performance in Healthy Subjects. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 17(4), 921-927. doi:10.3233/JAD-2009-1114 Schlosser, Eric. (2001, January 17). Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good. Retrieved from http://www.rense.com/general7/whyy.htm Schlosser, E. (2001). Fast food nation: The dark side of the all-American meal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. You want flies with that? McDonald's Happy Meal shows no sign of decomposing after SIX MONTHS.(2010, October 21). Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1 319562/McDonalds-Happy-Meal-bought-SallyDavies-shows-sign-mould-6-months.html Zhang, L. F., Ng, W. W., & Tay, S. C. (n.d.). DISCRETE–EVENT SIMULATION OF QUEUING SYSTEMS, Retrieved from http://www.physics.nus.edu.sg/~phytaysc/articles/queue.pdf

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