Time to sum up the first world commercial results of the year. The main star in the American fast-food market was Popeyes and its new chicken burger. In just a few months, the new product acquired the status of a cult dish and caused an incredible level of excitement.
The massive popularity of the hamburger finally outlined the trend for chicken growth in the fast-food industry. To date, beef burgers in production are less than three times ahead of chicken rivals. Ten years ago, it was hard to imagine. For example, in the US, in July 2019, sales of chicken burgers increased by 3.3% while sales of beef burgers remained unchanged. A similar is observed in the number of restaurants which are specializing in chicken as the main dish. In 2010, there were 17,924 such places in the United States, and by 2019 already 25,106.
Popeyes correctly calculated the start of a new food trend. However, not only statistics and the gradual transition of the consumer to chicken meat can explain the unbelievable rise of popularity of the new dish. The main part was played by a well-thought-out and accurately constructed media campaign.
The rapid start of sales was especially noticeable among the black population of the United States. For a long time, Popeyes cultivated its friendly image precisely among this ethnic group. The company has repeatedly said that it draws its inspiration from Kajun cuisine (the cuisine of the south of the country). The main slogan was «sandwich tastes like something that could have come from a black home kitchen.» The historical relationship between the black community and the company also played a vital role. Back in the 80s, more than 1/5 of all franchised restaurants belonged to black owners, and in the 90s, the company issued its ads in magazines such as black enterprise.
In the triumph and astronomical growth of Popeyes, the idea of cultural unification of the product stands out. The new burger has successfully combined stars and ordinary consumers. The same burger could appear at a two-year wedding party for Serena Williams or in Oprah Winfrey Instagram. According to Jonah Berger (marketing professor): «People are, in some senses, what they buy, and getting access to something that not everyone else has access to makes you look good.» Moreover, you can touch a cult product for only $ 3.99.
Not surprisingly, in a few weeks, the new product was completely sold out. To rekindle interest in its product, the company managed to announce that the coveted burger will return to the shelves in early November. Particularly loyal fans got the opportunity to download the application on an iPhone and be the first to receive notifications of the second wave of sales.
It’s not the first time fast-food chains are using high demand factors to boost their sales. A similar story happened with McDonald’s. In 2018, the global fast-food chain launched a limited series of Sichuan sauce. The idea was inspired by popular tv series Rick and Morty. Large American fanbase bought this sauce in a couple of weeks.
The topic of new chicken burgers remained in the spotlight even during a forced break in production. The company Popeyes recorded a new video in which invited impatient customers to create their version of the popular sandwich. To do this, customers only had to bring their toasts or another type of bread and get a few pieces of chicken for free.
Popeyes company also attracted attention with its active actions in a variety of social networks. The period of summer and the beginning of autumn became known as a Sandwich War. in an online battle, the main players in the American fast-food chicken market clashed. Chick-fil-A competitors decided to remind the audience about its products and tweeted about the original recipe for their signature chicken burger. Popeyes retweeted the news with the sarcastic signature «y’all good?». The battle response became yet another viral moment for Popey’s, the number of likes and reposts was in the tens of thousands, and the hashtag #sandwishwar got into the top of the American twitter. Other major players (Wendy’s, KFC) joined the battle as well.
In November, the burgers again successfully returned to the American sale. It is no coincidence that the second part of sales began on Sunday, the 3rd of November. The Popeyes once again joked with their main rival. Chick-a-fil traditionally follows its Christian founding roots, so all fast food restaurants are closed.
The first days of the sale exceeded all the most daring expectations of the brand. A new commercial success spurred other players in the market to start developing their chicken sandwiches. McDonald’s and Taco Bell have already announced such plans. Meanwhile, the Popeyes is planning to follow its successful 2019 and enter Chinese and Japanese markets.