Carol Huang
May 20, 2020

Longtime CMO Steven Li departs Yum China

KFC China's marketing innovation knew no boundaries during his tenure as chief marketer.

Longtime CMO Steven Li departs Yum China

Campaign has learned that Steven Li, the chief marketing officer for Yum China where he worked for more than eight years, has left the KFC and Pizza Hut parent company.

Yum China said Li left his position in November 2019 for "personal reasons" and the company currently has no CMO. 

Li posted on his LinkedIn page that he has now joined private equity firm Hillhouse Capital as an operating partner to develop healthcare portfolios. 

Li joined Yum China in 2011 after serving as the marketing director in Johnson & Johnson China for its baby products. In his time in Yum China, he led the marketing team firstly at Pizza Hut then KFC. Li was responsible for KFC's marketing strategy for almost three years during which time it was known for its rapid adoption of new technologies into restaurant experiences, including facial-recognition ordering systems, mobile-activated in-store jukeboxes, endless gamification and limited-edition KFC-branded Huawei phones

The marketer's embrace of first-to-market technolgies and daring marketing experiments earned Li a spot in Campaign's Asia-Pacific Power List in 2018. 

Yum China's growth and innovation has continued unabated in China, where it announced last month that it completed the acquisition of Chinese-style casual dining franchise Huang Ji Huang. In March, Yum China said it set up a joint venture with Italian coffee brand Lavazza and opened the first coffee shop in Shanghai.

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