All KFCs in Japan prominently feature a statue of KFC’s founder Colonel Sanders.
If a franchised store in Norway was open during the age of the Vikings, its slogan may have been “Thank Asgard for 7-11.”
Franchising has been used by many firms that compete in service industries to develop a worldwide presence (Table 7.12 “Franchising: A Leading American Export”). Subway, The UPS Store, and Hilton Hotels are just a few of the firms that have done so. Franchising involves an organization (called a franchisor) granting the right to use its brand name, products, and processes to other organizations (known as franchisees) in exchange for an up-front payment (a franchise fee) and a percentage of franchisees’ revenues (a royalty fee).
Franchising is an attractive way to enter foreign markets because it requires little financial investment by the franchisor. Indeed, local franchisees must pay the vast majority of the expenses associated with getting their businesses up and running. On the downside, the decision to franchise means that a firm will get to enjoy only a small portion of the profits made under its brand name. Also, local franchisees may behave in ways that the franchisor does not approve. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was angered by some of its franchisees in Asia when they started selling fish dishes without KFC’s approval. It is often difficult to fix such problems because laws in many countries are stacked in favor of local businesses. Last, franchises are only successful if franchisees are provided with a simple and effective business model. Executives thus need to avoid expanding internationally through franchising until their formula has been perfected.
7.5 Options for Competing in International Markets 234
Firms should own a thoroughly proven business model before franchising in other countries.
While franchising is an option within service industries, licensing is most frequently used in manufacturing industries. Licensing involves granting a foreign company the right to create a company’s product within a foreign country in exchange for a fee. These relationships often center on patented technology. A firm that grants a license avoids absorbing a lot of costs, but its profits are limited to the fees that it collects from the local firm. The firm also loses some control over how its technology is used.
A historical example involving licensing illustrates how rapidly events can change within the international arena. By the time Japan surrendered to the United States and its Allies in 1945, World War II had crippled the country’s industrial infrastructure. In response to this problem, Japanese firms imported a great deal of technology, especially from American firms. When the Korean War broke out in the early 1950s, the American military relied on Jeeps made in Japan using licensed technology. In just a few years, a mortal enemy had become a valuable ally.