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03/02/2021

Yum! Brands beefs up AI efforts with acquisition

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A quick-service restaurant operator is purchasing an artificial intelligence (AI)-based consumer insights and marketing performance analytics technology provider.

Yum! Brands Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Kvantum Inc. By acquiring Kvantum, Yum! intends to drive calendar and marketing spend optimization at its KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and The Habit Burger Grill brands by applying consumer insights and data analytics.

Kvantum develops and deploys algorithms and AI models to help brands understand consumer behavior and make informed media and calendar decisions. This acquisition is the latest in a series of moves Yum! Brands has been making to leverage the capabilities of AI across its business.

In March 2020, the company purchased Heartstyles, which offers an AI-based omnichannel leadership development program. In June 2020, the Canadian banner of its KFC chain started leveraging the SaaS-based Manthan restaurant analytics solution to gain deeper insights across all aspects of its restaurant business.

And in August 2020, Yum! Brands’ Taco Bell banner unveiled a new restaurant format outfitted with smart kitchen technology that detects when customers have arrived and send them a mobile alert to the quickest route for pick-up: curbside, the express lane or carry-out.

The newly-acquired Kvantum technology seamlessly combines ML and econometric modeling into its marketing performance analytics platform, and can measure the effects of marketing tactics in a designated geography across owned, paid and earned channels. 

Yum! Brands plans to combine Kvantum’s AI and machine learning (ML) approach to understanding human behavior with the work of the anthropologists and sociologists at Collider Lab, a culture-based consumer insights and marketing strategy consultancy Yum! acquired in 2015. 

The Kvantum business unit, as part of Yum! Brands, will continue to offer consultancy services to external clients outside of the restaurant industry. Yum! Brands’ acquisition of the Kvantum business is expected to close by the end of the Q1 2021, subject to standard closing conditions.

“Technology strategies that elevate the customer and employee experience and lead to smart, data-driven marketing decisions are critical to keeping our brands relevant, easy to access, and distinctive, and delivering growth for our franchisees and shareholders,” said David Gibbs, CEO, Yum! Brands. “We’re excited about the opportunity this acquisition presents and the potential to scale Kvantum’s proven technologies across our system to strengthen our data and advanced analytics capabilities and elevate our world-class marketing competencies globally.”

Based in Louisville, Ky., Yum! Brands Inc., has over 50,000 restaurants in more than 150 countries and territories, primarily operating its KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and The Habit Burger Grill banners.