Korean-style fried chicken is the favorite soul food of South Koreans. According to a 2014 survey of 1,000 people, 77.7 percent picked deep-fried chicken pieces smothered in a red, sweet, and hot sauce as their favorite night snack. An ordinary South Korean consumed about 16 kilograms (35 pounds) of chicken meat at home in 2020. Most fried chickens are ordered via food delivery services that normally take less than one hour to arrive at customers' doorsteps.
BBQ, operated by Genesis BBQ, was launched in 1995 and became the iconic fried chicken franchise in South Korea. BBQ's menus were localized to match South Korean's tastes by making chicken pieces less oily compared to those made by foreign brands including KFC or Popeye's. BBQ has some 1,600 franchise stores across South Korea as of December 2021. The second-largest chicken brand BHC has some 1,515 stores.
KT said that the company forged a partnership with BBQ to accelerate the digital transformation of the fried chicken franchise by utilizing artificial intelligence technologies. KT said that AI technology will be used to enable the telecom company's voice assistant speakers to receive BBQ chicken delivery orders. BBQ could adopt KT's autonomous serving robots to its stores.
According to Consumer Insight, a market research firm, there are more than 10 million AI-based voice assistant speakers deployed to homes, offices, and stores in South Korea. The smart speakers can verbally communicate with people to carry out simple tasks such as making phone calls, doing an online keyword search, playing music, and ordering products from online stores. It is not rare to see autonomous serving robots in action at restaurants and cafes as shop owners use robot workers to save operating costs.
"We will finish the digital transformation of our company, which we have emphasized its importance all along, through this partnership and create new business opportunities, " BBQ Chairman Yoon Hong-geun was quoted as saying.
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