They let consumers taste the product and in doing so they created an overwhelming demand. People talked about it, they sent coupons to everyone they knew. Charitable individuals downloaded coupons and gave them to the homeless. The â€œchicken coupâ€ may be the greatest PR strategy ever.
Every day, 23 million chickens are prepared for food in the U.S. Louisville-based KFC, a subsidiary of Yum Brands, hopes grilled chicken will lure back health-conscious consumers who dropped fried chicken from their diets, or cut back on indulging. KFCâ€™s new â€œUnthink What You Thought about KFCâ€ initiative is a Web-based user-generated content campaign to push the companyâ€™s new grilled balanced lifestyle items. The â€œUnthink KFCâ€ site offers a fun way for users to get involved in the brand as well as a source of nutritional information.
Last year, Yum had 30 percent operating profit growth in its China division, where KFC is a dominant fast-food brand, while U.S. operations had a three percent decline. Yum and KFC said they want health-conscious customers back. Their objective was to show the other side of KFC that isnâ€™t fried. The grilled chicken breast has 17 less grams of fat than its fried counterpart.
KFC has over 14,000 outlets in 105 countries and territories around the world. The breakthrough to the new offering came when the company solved operational problems with a new oven that grills a batch of chicken in just over 20 minutes. Customers in select U.S. cities will soon be greeted at KFCs by lighted â€œNow Grillingâ€ signs. Even the brand's ubiquitous chicken buckets will get a makeover. Buckets will still feature founder Harland Sanders but will get a redesign to promote fried and grilled chicken.
African Americansâ€™ affinity with â€œthe yard birdâ€ and KFC is long and legend. Twelve percent of the U.S. population, Blacks have represented over 20 percent of KFC customers from the beginning. In the 1970s and 80s, the company negotiated and signed a â€œcovenantâ€ with PUSH for increased reciprocity and franchises with Blacks. The company has been named one of FORTUNE magazineâ€™s â€œTop 50 Employers for Minorities.â€
KFC has a long presence and has made a distinctive outreach to urban markets. The new restaurant design is adorned inside and out with paintings by famed African American artist Charly (Carlos) Palmer. A prototype restaurant is in Washington, D.C. where they updated an old KFC urban location. The restaurant increased business by more than 20 percent and, most importantly, changed how KFC team members and customers felt about the KFC brand.
In addition to their Oprah Connection, KFC is marketing public
service across the nation. KFC has sent a letter to U.S. mayors, offering to fill up potholes in their citiesâ€™ streets. Mayors must nominate their cities to be refreshed, and those that win will have their potholes filled and marked with the words â€œRe-freshet by KFCâ€ in non-permanent street chalk. The phrase refers to the fact that the chain uses only fresh chicken, which is shipped weekly to its stores.
In the end, we now know that: 1) Oprah is a media phenomenon with the reach and credibility to create a trend and influence; 2) People love chicken and 3) People love chicken even more when itâ€™s free.