Viral marketing and brand personality fueled interest in the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen chicken sandwich last year, a move that ultimately boosted the brand's market share and benefited all quick service restaurants.

“Prior to this launch, Popeyes really wasn’t in the chicken sandwich business. They hadn’t had a sandwich on their menu since October of 2008,” Kelley Bailie Fechner, Director of Customer Solutions for Datassential, explained.

Fechner, alongside Emma Partridge, Senior Client Services Analyst at Numerator, discussed the chicken sandwich wars on June 3 during a webinar titled What’s next in the chicken sandwich wars. This presentation was a part of the Chicken Marketing Summit series of webinars, proudly sponsored by Zoetis.

Personality pops

Popeyes launched their chicken sandwich in August 2019, but interest in the new menu item really heated up when the brand began the now infamous “Y’all good?” Twitter feud with rival brand, Chick-fil-A.

“It speaks to the personality that Popeyes has as a brand – especially on social media. Not only are they watching what their competitors are doing, you’ll notice on Twitter and Instagram that Popeyes responds to every individual comment that they get. That’s an interesting personality that Popeyes has cultivated on social media,” Fechner added. “In this case, seeing what friends and family said about it on social media made people want to go out and do a side-by-side comparison between the chicken sandwiches.”

“We’d heard anecdotally that some buyers were doing comparisons during the Popeyes sandwich launch. That data showed that approximately a quarter visited another quick service restaurant the same day they purchased a chicken sandwich from Popeyes,” Partridge said.

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Everyone benefits

Sales soared for Popeyes – increasing by more than 34% during the third quarter of 2019 after the sandwich relaunched. Ultimately, however, everyone in the chicken sandwich market benefited.

“When everything is tweeted and done, Popeyes is really the sole share winner from the overall launch. It now polls about 12 points higher in term of chicken sandwich share of wallet compared to pre-launch,” Partridge said.

“There were more dollars spent on chicken sandwiches in general after the chicken sandwich war. The market expanded for Popeyes, bringing in new buyers and dollars.”

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