Chick-fil-A Leverages Brand Loyalty, High Unit Sales to Edge KFC in Rankings

Posted by Dale Buss on August 2, 2013 07:05 PM
指導者 / 總編輯 張蕙娟
分享者 / 李睿芬


Chick-fil-A曾因公開反對同志婚姻法案及同性戀社群而面臨嚴峻的挑戰,執行長Dan Cathy撫慰同性戀社群,但未背棄舊有的反同性戀立場,因而保有意識形態族群及宗教保守人士對Chick-fil-A的忠誠。


Maybe one reason KFC is experimenting with its KFC eleven fast-casual concept is that it wants to stop competing with Chick-fil-A. Despite its own set of challenges, Chick-fil-A passed KFC to become the No. 1 chicken chain in the US market, according to the new compilation by QSR(Quick-Service and Fast Casual Restaurant) Magazine.

It was the only change of position among the list's overall top ten, which, of course, is still headed by McDonald's, followed by Subway, Starbucks, Wendy's, Burger King and Taco Bell. Arguably, this is a time of great innovation by industry players, with new menu items, day-part experimentation, pricing and demographic re-targeting. But positions in the ranking change only grudgingly as the overall QSR business remains sluggish, too.

The details show that Chick-fil-A appears to be leveraging what Marketing Daily called its "unusually deep customer loyalty" to achieve higher system-wide sales than KFC despite having about one-third fewer restaurants, or just 1,683 units open last year to KFC's 4,556. Also, while KFC's network shrank by 77 stores in the US in 2012, Chick-fil-A has expanded by 77. Total US systemwide sales were about $4.6 billion for Chick-fil-A to about $4.5 billion for KFC.

Chick-fil-A leapfrogged KFC despite the crucial challenge of having a very bad year of publicity as the chain's ownership has openly spoken out against the LGBT community and gay marriage legislation. CEO Dan Cathy has ended up making some conciliatory moves in the direction of gay consumers without swearing off his overall stance—an approach that also has activated loyalties that Chick-fil-A already enjoyed among ideological and religious conservatives.

The chain also has been active on the innovation front, with introduction of more healthy options and a transparency-seeking offer of "counter tours."Meanwhile, KFC has been trying out some of its own new ideas, including a fast-casual concept called KFC eleven, which forswears traditional KFC brand graphics and even bone-in chicken. KFC also introduced Original Recipe Bites of chicken last year and has followed that up this summer with the launch of Hot Shot Bites.

Of course, chicken QSR isn't all about the Big Two. Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen finished No. 3 in the segment, and No. 19 in the overall list, with revenues of nearly $2.5 billion last year from about the same number of units as Chick-fil-A, nearly 1,700. It, too, is making a new run at product innovation, with new items such as its Chicken Waffle Tenders, which take the brand's chicken tenders, dips them in a waffle-style coating and then pairs the combo with a honey-maple dipping sauce.