- Popeyes’ chicken sandwich went viral this fall thanks to a combination of luck and taste, according to the boss of the fried-chicken chain’s parent company.
- “A really fortuitous moment of social media interaction” between Popeyes and Chik-fil-A fueled the hype, Restaurant Brands CEO Jose Cil said this week. “And then others joined in and it became the #chickenwars.”
- Popeyes laid the groundwork for the phenomenon by creating a “really amazing chicken sandwich,” Cil said.
- The chicken sandwich craze drove Popeyes’ sales up 16% and profits up 13% last quarter.
- View Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Popeyes’ chicken sandwich went viral this fall thanks to a combination of luck and taste, according to the boss of the fried-chicken chain’s parent company.
“A really fortuitous moment of social media interaction between two brands” fueled the hype around the product’s launch in August, Restaurant Brands CEO Jose Cil said at a Morgan Stanley conference this week. “And then others joined in and it became the #chickenwars.”
After Popeyes announced its first chicken sandwich ever, rival Chik-fil-A responded by saying its sandwich was the “original.” Popeyes replied “y’all good?” and other fast-food brands soon jumped into the debate.
Popeyes expected to sell around 60 sandwiches per day at each of its locations, but the actual figure was closer to 1,000, one analyst told CNBC. The chain sold out in two weeks, prompting one enterprising customer to list a sandwich on eBay for $7,000. After the chain restocked in November, some restaurants ran out again, and one customer even killed another for allegedly cutting in line.
The starting point of the phenomenon was Popeyes’ creation of a “really amazing chicken sandwich,” Cil said. A tasty product meant the customers flooding in weren’t disappointed, and the craze didn’t lose steam.
“We got really fortunate to have a great marketing team interacting on social media and creating buzz that then drove people to the restaurants to test the hype and to validate whether the hype was true,” Cil said. “They saw and they experienced it for themselves. And that drove additional visitation.”
“That’s what we were able to kind of bottle in the Popeyes launch,” he added.
The chicken sandwich frenzy resulted in a spike in customers. Popeyes’ foot traffic surged by 286% above baseline levels, according to Placer.AI, which lifted “all other parts of the business,” Cil said on an earnings call in October.
Strong demand for chicken, drinks, and desserts drove Popeyes’ sales up 16% in the third quarter — nearly double the rate of growth a year earlier, and one of the brand’s strongest showings in the past 20 years, Cil said on an earnings call in October. Adjusted profits rose 13% to $47 million.
Did You See This CB Softwares?
37 SOFTWARE TOOLS... FOR $27!?Join Affiliate Bots Right Away