KFC made 3 drastic changes -- and now the business is on fire

KFC has executed a remarkable turnaround in the last couple years.

The chain’s same-store sales grew 3% in fiscal 2015, after plunging more than 15% two years earlier.

KFC is gaining considerable momentum especially in the US, where same-store sales have increased 8% on a two-year basis.

Here’s how KFC is winning back customers:

1. KFC’s revival of its mascot, Colonel Sanders, is returning relevance to the brand.

The chain hadn’t used Colonel Sanders in advertising for 21 years before bringing him back in a new advertising campaign last May.

“The brand’s reinvigoration with Saturday Night Live alums playing the role of founder Colonel Sanders has brought some buzz back to the concept,” Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski wrote in a recent note.

KFC executives have also said the new marketing campaign has been a a success.

“If you looked at social media over Halloween, there were zillions of Colonel Sanders costumes — not just kids, but adults,” Kevin Hochman, KFC’s chief marketing officer, said at an event debuting Nashville Hot Chicken in New York City in January.

Comedians Norm MacDonald and Darrell Hammond are among the actors that KFC has hired to play Colonel Sanders in new TV ads. The chain is planning to release a new ad with yet another actor playing the Colonel during the Superbowl this weekend.

Some customers aren’t fans of the ads, but the company is just happy that people are talking about the brand again.

“They’re actually talking about KFC, and you can market to love and hate — you cannot market to indifference,” Yum! Brands CEO Greg Creed said in May.

2. KFC added a popular new promotion called the $5 “Fill Up” meal. Citi Research analysts say the meal has added a major boost to the chain’s momentum in the US.

The meals include an entree, a drink, several sides, and a dessert — all for $5.

There are five different “Fill Up” combos featuring chicken tenders, chicken breasts, pot pie, and other options.

“We believe the positive sales momentum is likely to continue,” Citi Research analysts wrote in a research note. “Of note, $5 Fill Ups continue to resonate very well and lower gas prices remain a tailwind.”

3. The chain began renovating restaurants with a new, fancier design.

Here’s the design the stores are getting on the outside:

Kfc store outside

And here’s a sample of the new interior:

Kfc inside

NOW WATCH: A teen built a KFC chicken vending machine made entirely of Lego blocks — here’s how it works

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