Popeyes' chicken sandwich capitalized on a clear opportunity to overtake rival Chick-fil-A
- Chick-fil-A dominated the chicken sandwich space before Popeyes released its chicken sandwich. No other chain came close in a Business Insider reader survey conducted in June and July.
- We surveyed more than 3,000 Business Insider readers about their fast-food preferences, ranking chains by comparing the number of people who had visited a chain in the last six months with the number who said that chain was the best at something.
- Readers said Chick-fil-A had the best fried chicken sandwich. But that was before Popeyes' chicken sandwich came along.
- But although Chick-fil-A won in the chicken sandwich category, Popeyes was voted as having the best fried chicken, period.
- With no real competition other than Chick-fil-A, Popeyes had a clear opportunity to enter the chicken sandwich market, and the Louisiana chain has reaped the rewards.
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In a survey completed over the summer, we asked more than 3,000 Business Insider readers about which fast-food chains were best at what. In order to include smaller and regional chains, we calculated our rankings by measuring the number of respondents who said they had visited a given chain in the last six months against the number of respondents who said that chain was the best in a given category.
Chick-fil-A overwhelmingly won the title of best fried chicken sandwich, with the number of people who said it had the best one being 94% of those who recently visited the restaurant, which is how we adjusted for popularity. Popeyes came in second, with 38% of recent Popeyes visitors saying its sandwich was superior.However, our survey was taken in June and July, when most Popeyes restaurants still served the old chicken po' boy - and not the fried chicken sandwich that launched a thousand tweets.
Popeyes, however, easily won in the general fried chicken category, with the number of people who said its chicken was best coming in at seven percentage points higher than the number of people who had been there recently, a 107% ratio of chicken fans to walk-ins. Essentially, more people said Popeyes had the best fried chicken than had visited the chain in the last six months, which is a massive endorsement.
Chick-fil-A essentially dominated the chicken sandwich space with no close competitors, but Popeyes was in prime position to pounce with by far the best chicken in the business, according to readers. Popeyes' August entry into the chicken sandwich market was an obvious move, but also the smartest one the chain could have made.
And the move paid off. Popeyes' chicken sandwich brought the chain greater brand awareness, and the hype around the sandwich resulted in an overall sales boost of over 10% at Popeyes even after the sandwich had sold out for the first time. The sandwich drew new customers to Popeyes and invigorated the chain's existing customer base.
After Popeyes first released its chicken sandwich to enthusiastic customer response, Chick-fil-A ignited a Twitter feud that soon encompassed all chicken-sandwich-selling chains, big and small. This social media rivalry, however, mirrored a very real business consequence: Popeyes' chicken sandwich launch affected other chains' - namely, McDonald's - chicken sales.Now that the chicken sandwich is finally back at Popeyes restaurants across the US, those who didn't get to try it in August are now trying it for the first time.
Because of the death grip it has had on the chicken sandwich market, Chick-fil-A has been able to get away with unapologetically unusual business practices such as closing on Sundays. But it's possible that if Popeyes' chicken sandwich continues to bring more customers to the Louisiana chain, Chick-fil-A might find itself singing a very different tune.