McDonald's, Popeyes and Chick-fil-A are heading for the best chicken sandwich. that's why
Popayes, who sparked the latest battle with his spicy chicken sandwich in August, is being punished to bring back the viral sensation "as soon as possible." Chick-fil-A is constantly expanding its reach by selling chicken chains almost twice its size. And McDonald's franchise operators, watching the duel on the sidelines, are pushing their corporate boss to bring the crunchy, home-grown bread.
"JFK Calls for a Man on the Moon," a letter wrote in July. "Our call should be the leading chicken sandwich category."
"If you have the largest share in the growing category, it's a big win," says Michael Harak, who until August was the manager of culinary innovation at McDonald's. "It's exponentially more sales, more buzz, more foot traffic to your restaurant."
McDonald's, which is said to be "synonymous with burgers," has reason to worry: Beef consumption has declined in the United States. Chicken is now the most popular meat ever.
There will be "clear winners", said Haratz, who will dominate the space and collect profits as long as they can keep up with demand.
Thirty Years of Food Fight
Although this summer's battle for fried chicken has been particularly booming, it has been part of a dynamic that dates back at least 30 years.
In 1989, McDonald's launched a national "country style" "Sandwich Mackiken and sparked a battle with Hardy, then one of the largest fast food chains in the country. "While McDonald`s is promoting its new product, it can't even compare to our 1979 chicken fillet sandwich, which has been on the market since 1979," Hardee's president said at the time, according to a 1989 observer report of Charlotte. The newspaper published the story entitled "Chicken Sandwiches Initiate the War on Fast Food."
Over the following decades, fast food chains launched and resumed new iterations of the sandwich. McDonald's has a number of versions, including premium and limited offers. In the last year alone, The Ultimate Chicken Sandwich, The Moighty Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Chicken BBQ Sandwich and McChicken
have been served. While companies experiment with chicken sandwiches, they sometimes cause a stir. In 2010, KFC made headlines with Double Down – a time-limited only sandwich with cheese and bacon with two pieces of fried chicken, where the cockerel should be. (KFC briefly returned it in 2014)
But while items such as Double Down went viral, there may not have been anything like the rage that happened this summer when Popeyes released his national chicken sandwich.  People stood in line for hours at a chance to try (and post pictures of) the sandwich. Workers are reported to be tired as store operators struggle to keep up with impatient customers.
Not that Popeys didn't expect the sandwich to be a hit. He carefully researched what he would do with the customers and finally landed on the right combination – milk fillets and flavored white meat fillets garnished with pickles and a choice of mayo or spicy cajun and served on a toasted brioche bun. Popeys called the sandwich "the biggest product launch in 30 years." Felipe Atay, president of America at Popayes, told the New York Times that the company had "very aggressively forecasted" demand and expected to have enough supplies at least by the end of September – about six weeks after the August 12 start date. But stores across the country are selling the sandwich within about two weeks.
Many cite Twitter sharing as instigator. On August 19, one week after the Popeyes sandwiches hit stores, Chick-fil-A's official Twitter account posted a message: "Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all <3 for the original." Pacey interpreted the message as a jab, retweeted the post and added "…. are you okay?"
The responded reaction struck a nerve. It garnered almost 87,000 retweets and 324,000 likes, spawned memes and elicited countless emotional cry-laughs from social media users. Chick-fil-A didn't take the bait, but Wendy stormed in and took to Popeys on Twitter to the delight of the viewers.
The brand war is unlikely to have such a huge impact if Americans were no longer interested in fried chicken sandwiches.
"There have always been fried chicken sandwiches," said Kara Nielsen, vice president of trends and marketing for CCD Innovation, a food and beverage consultancy. However, it traces the current interest in the article to the 2008 financial crisis.
"One of the things that has erupted since this recession has been the interest in comfort food, as well as many people opening food trucks, creating stalls for food, "she said. "And so, at that time, many fried chicken sandwiches were coming out. And in fact, they never stopped. "
And while ordering fried chicken sandwiches, they won local fans, a small, quirky chain kept spinning.
The Rise of Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A traces its roots to the original dinner of founder S. Truett Cathy – Dwarf Grill, which opened in 1946. Katie opens the first Chick-fil-A in 1967 at the Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta.
For years, the company has expanded mainly into grocery stores. Then, in 1986, she opened her first independent location in Atlanta. Today, the chain operates more than 2,400 restaurants in 47 states and Washington, D.C. The other chicken chains are bigger – Popeys, for example, has more than 2,600 restaurants in the US, and KFC has about 4,000. But Chick-fil-A has sold them.
Ranked by annual revenue, Chick-fil-A is the fifth largest chain of restaurants in the US after McDonald's, Starbucks, Subway and Taco Bell – all have many more stores.
Chick-fil-A's individual stores are more productive than any of its larger competitors. They pulled in an average of $ 4.4 million in 2018, well above the sales of stakes in McDonald's or Starbucks, according to Technomic, a company specializing in food research.
The chain is also a favorite according to polls and surveys.
An Axios Harris poll released in March found that Chick-fil-A has the best adult reputation in the US compared to Starbucks, Yum! Brands (owned by KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell), Chipotle, Papa John's and McDonald's. And for the last four years, American teenagers surveyed by Piper Jaffrey have said that Chick-fil-A is their favorite restaurant.
Customer service and food quality help to explain the success of Chick-fil-A. But it also has a commercially important X-factor: authenticity.
R.J. Hottovy, an analyst who covers Morningstar foods, said that in recent years, companies that specialize in a particular product and look more authentic tend to do better than those who try to please everyone . high on authenticity. He adhered to Christian roots, keeping stores closed on Sunday, for example. But this conservative tradition has also gained backlash. In 2012, executive director Dan Katie said he opposed gay marriage for religious reasons. The same year, the company was also criticized for donations made by the WinShape Foundation, which was created by founder Truett Cathy and largely funded by Chick-fil-A's profits, to groups some of which are characterized as anti-gay.
Chick-fil-A says that "there is no political or social agenda" and "everyone is welcome to our restaurants." Still, the new stores were met with protests. Some fans of fried chicken sandwiches may welcome a proposal from a provider they consider to be more politically neutral, such as Popeyes.
Nevertheless, Chick-fil-A grows with a steady clip and lifts these devotees.
"There are so many people now who understand or understand what Chick-fil-A is, even if they have never eaten there or have never seen it," Nilsen notes. "It became a bit of a mythical thing, and apparently millennials have found it and found it to fit their bill."
As Chick-fil-A locations pop up in more cities, more people rush to try their sandwiches, increased sales of fried chicken sandwich and got other fast food chains to pay attention to. "This trend of fried chicken is continuing to develop because companies like Chick-fil-A are expanding," Nielsen said.
While Chick-fil-A is crawling all over the country, one group in particular is trying to protect its territory. McDonald's franchise operators are calling for reinforcements.
On July 10, the month before Popeys released her sandwich, the board of the National Owners Association – a group of McDonald's franchisees that formed in 2018, sent a strong letter to its members.
"We are finding ways to achieve profitable growth," the board writes. "And yet, we're still losing the number of guests. That remains a problem."
One of the reasons for the loss, the board claims, is that customers craving a delicious fried chicken sandwich do not go to McDonald's. They go to Chick-fil-A.
"The favorite our customers want is a chicken sandwich. Unfortunately, they have to go to Chick-fil-A for that," they said from the board. "The chicken fil-A results demonstrate the strength of the chicken meat. Yes, we have great chicken McNaggets and our McKean is a very good product. But we don't compete in the first-class chicken sandwiches, neither grilled nor crispy."
The letter continued with a warning: "The results in our markets in Southeast America should apply to everyone. You may not have Chick-fil-A in your market or to the extent that they are in the Southeast, but they are coming. And they don't. " t discount. "
McDonald's knows how to make chicken a hit. In the early 1980s, around the time when Americans first lost interest in beef, McDonald's founder Ray Crock wanted to add a chicken to the menu. The company's initial attempts, like a fried chicken pot pie, did not respond to customers, but McDonald's landed the winner: Chicken McNuggets, which started in 1983, were so successful that by 1985 the chain became the second largest seller of chicken in the fast space
"Chicken has been on the radar for quite some time at McDonald's," Haratz said. "Different chicken sandwiches are tested."
In the third quarter of 2019, traffic to McDonald's U.S. restaurants was reduced. During an October call discussing the profits, one analyst wondered if McDonald's had lost its sales since it was ahead of the Great War with a chicken sandwich.
"I think it's fair to assume that with everything that happens in the chicken neighborhood, we're going to go back a little bit to the chicken. So I think that's a fair conclusion," replied Kevin Ozan, Chief CFO of the company,
For now, McDonald's keeps his plans close to his waistcoat. The company declined to tell CNN Business when it expects to launch its next chicken sandwich, but noted: "We are inspired by the customer demand for premium chicken sandwiches and work closely with our franchisees to deliver what our customers want. "
A source close to the conversation between the owners and McDonald's management stated that a premium chicken sandwich could be launched as early as this year.
But while McDonald's focuses and focuses on other areas of
At the end of August, after the massive successful start of Popyes, Blake Casper, director of NOA, sent another grim note.
"It's been a busy week, especially if you work in Popyes. "Popeys came out with a chicken sandwich, which he ate ernichi of Chick-fil-A. This is the first time Chick-fil-A has blinked, or more precisely, been forced to blink. But don't be fooled, they blinked. Wendy came into action. and unfortunately we're not in the game yet. "
But, Casper continued, it's not over yet.
" That will change. We are working on a chicken sandwich that will be racing. We will participate in the game. People will get tired of the Popeyes service and want an alternative to Chick-fil-A, "he said.
" They want a McDonald's chicken sandwich. We will give it to them. "