Photo: By babeinthecitykl on Flickr
The fast food industry has entered a chicken war, but there’s at least one chicken chain that’s not scared of the increased competition.It’s Popeyes.
We sat down with Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes, to talk about her competitors’ movement toward chicken and what she thinks of it.
Photo: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Bachelder has overseen a mighty turnaround at the chicken chain, and she’s far from worried about the bigger chains butting into her business.”Everybody’s going into chicken sandwiches and that is not our sweet spot,” said Bachelder. “Bone-in chicken, portable chicken and seafood — that’s where we differentiate.”
“They can make chicken sandwiches all day long — they’re mediocre,” she continued. “There’s nothing high-quality about them.”
Bachelder mentioned the effectiveness of the Popeyes brand. It has a specific appeal to customer, and it’s something that a chain like McDonald’s wouldn’t be able to replicate, she said.
“McDonald’s doesn’t marinate for 12 hours, and if they did, you wouldn’t believe them anyway,” she said “We want to use a lot of our food credibility.”
Bachelder isn’t afraid — at least outwardly — of any competitive pressure. To her, Popeyes’ competition are the top five quick-serve brands, because she’s fighting for the same occasion of lunch or dinner as them. So, Popeyes measures its market share and performance against all of the top chains.
“That’s the way we want to think. We want to beat McDonald’s — we don’t want to beat just KFC,” said Bachelder. “We do have to be ahead of them in our service experiences. We still have an opportunity for improvement to compete with the big guys.”
“The problem we do have is to get next door to all of them,” she said.
That’s one big problem, of course. Popeyes is the second-largest fast food chicken chain, but its 1,800 stores are dwarfed by McDonald’s 33,000. It just doesn’t have the scale.
Now, if Popeyes is touting its quality, what about the rise of fast casual chains like Panera Bread, Chipotle and Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which have spent years building their brands around just that?
Bachelder said that it’s one of the reasons why Popeyes is going through a re-imaging process, making its stores more upscale so you feel good about sitting there to enjoy your food.
“[Fast casual] focuses on food quality and it focuses on a quality environment to eat your food. I think they’ve changed the way you want to enjoy your fast food,” she explained. “Superior food, superior experience and superior environment.”
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