In April, when Jollibee first announced that they were planning to open in Europe--and in Italy no less--it felt like a tall order. Italians are known all over the world for their cooking; it's a country where nearly everything tastes good, from the specialty products in kiosks to fancy fine-dining establishments. Where does our humble fast food favorite fit in?
While that bright red sauce and cut-up hotdogs (plus other tasty precooked meats) have become a regular part of the Filipino diet, its appealingly nostalgic flavor might not fare well in the land of pasta. Curious about this move, we asked Dennis M. Flores, head of Jollibee's International Operations, in between international openings about this strategy.
"Jollibee's international expansion strategy is to prioritize markets with a significant Filipino population," he explains. "Given that Italy is home to close to 300,000 Filipinos, the biggest base in Europe, it is only fitting that we choose Italy as our entry market into Europe. The first store will be in Milan in the Lombardy region, home to almost 100,000 Filipinos."
According to Flores, Italy has just started opening up to fastfood chicken, citing that another international chicken chain has only around 10 branches in the country. They used this as the jumping-off point to introducing Jollibee's signature Chickenjoy. As with other enterprises opening themselves up to a new market, minor tweaks will be made to make the flavor more preferable to the Italians.
"It's important to be consistent with what the brand is all about," says Flores. We will communicate Jollibee as an alternative Western-inspired quick-service restaurant with superior-tasting, value-for-money products." Social media as well as the Filipino community, he continues, will help spread the word.
As for the Jollibee Spaghetti, which is one of the brand's biggest bestsellers, Flores admits that there are no plans to highlight the sweet-style spaghetti in this European invasion, saying that the focus will be on Chickenjoy and Yumburgers.
More adjustments will be made once Jollibee has tested the waters, as well as offerings specific to Italy. A tentative opening date is set for October 2017.
This article originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Entrepreneur.com.ph team.