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Steal This Chicken (Sandwich): As Competition Mounts, Will Customers Be Loyal?

Steal This Chicken Sandwich: As Competition Mounts, Will Customers Be Loyal?

As the chicken sandwich competition continues to intensify, Margo Kahnrose, the chief marketing officer of marketing technology company Kenshoo, told Benzinga the battle for consumers' minds and wallets will merely increase.

Taking Advantage Of Beef's Weakness: Beef's popularity has been declining since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as the protein's association with cholesterol and obesity became a focal point among consumers, according to Signals Analytics, Kahnrose told Benzinga in an email interview. (Kenshoo is the parent company of Signals Analytics.)

Fast-food giants heavily emphasized burger products during their early days of growth and the same marketing blitz may be underway with chicken sandwiches. Brands will leverage their social media platforms and other marketing to "drive new buzz and excitement."

Chicken is also more of a crowd-pleaser menu item as the chicken itself is a "blank canvas" for other flavors like add-ons to take over.

"As the big chains continue to battle it out on social media, consumers will continue to stay engaged both online and through purchase behavior as long as there are new variations to try," she wrote.

Winners And Losers: Some of the fast-food chains that focused on chicken before it was cool are not going to stand for new entrants trying to eat their lunch.

Most notably, Restaurant Brands International Inc's (NYSE: QSR) Popeyes had a hilarious response to Mcdonald's Corp's (NYSE: MCD) website website.

Popeyes bought nearly every misspelled variation of McDonald's website — such as — that redirected users to a Popeyes page offering the first 10,000 people a free chicken sandwich.

Chicken sandwiches are for the most part interchangeable with each other so brands will need to make sure they have the "most clever" brand voice. This is especially true for legacy chicken joints like Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.

"It's easier than ever to steal customer loyalty away from your competitors when you can literally hijack their advertising efforts online and insert your brand into their conversation with customers," Kahnrose wrote.

Taco Bell's Gamble: One of the more unusual entrants to the chicken sandwich space was Yum! Brands, Inc.'s (NYSE: YUM) Taco Bell. The differentiated fast-food chain needs to proceed carefully and avoid alienating its core customer at the expense of the ongoing momentum in chicken.

"When your brand caters to a specific customer need, it can be really risky and even detrimental to pivot wildly simply to take advantage of a moment in time," she wrote. "They need to ask themselves whether they can build off the momentum without losing authenticity."

Related Link: Yes, Even Taco Bell Is Entering The Chicken Sandwich Battle

Where Restaurants Are Advertising: Instagram is the go-to destination for restaurants looking to advertise their chicken sandwiches, according to a new report from the competitive intelligence platform BrandTotal. McDonald's opted to heavily focus its chicken sandwich marketing efforts on YouTube, likely due to the chain being one of the few companies taking part in the Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) boycott in the second half of 2020.

Wendys Co (NASDAQ: WEN) had the highest volume of engagements from early November through early February as it promoted its 4 for $4 offer. Chick-fil-A showed the highest volume of paid media engagements and ranked top in terms of consumer sentiment.

"The most successful social media messages in the QSR space embrace humor and popular culture to build brand affinity, with a tone that often differs from that used in media efforts," according to the report.

(Photo by Donna Elliot on Unsplash)


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