The Chicken Sandwich War: A Lesson in Online Marketingby Mike Stormberg on June 22, 2021Search Engine Optimization
There is a war being fought each and every day here in America. This war is being fought not with bombs or bullets but with buttermilk and brioche. I am of course referring to the Chicken Sandwich War. The war for chicken sandwich supremacy and dominion over our stomachs has been raging for almost 2 years. The combatants are many, ranging from the superpower big chains to local mom and pop shops. Casualties include America’s cholesterol levels, and of course millions of chickens, but a notable weapon of war in this fight has been digital marketing. If there is a lesson to be learned from this war, it is the importance of social media, value-based customer loyalty, and website optimization.
The opening shots of the Chicken Sandwich War were fired on August 12, 2019 when popular fried chicken restaurant Popeyes announced their new fried chicken sandwich aimed at competing with chains like Chick-Fil-A and KFC. Chick-Fil-A took to twitter and fired off a now infamous tweet touting themselves as the original chicken sandwich. It did not take long for Popeyes to respond back with their own opening salvo…and the rest is history.
… y’all good? https://t.co/lPaTFXfnyP
— Popeyes (@PopeyesChicken) August 19, 2019
This history lesson illustrates the importance of social media in today’s business world. One tweet and a few smart social media managers started a revolution that has changed the fast-food industry. Every fast-food restaurant raced to launch their own version of the chicken sandwich and are doing everything they can to create the social buzz around their own product that Popeyes and Chick-Fil-A captured. The social media frenzy that ensued even caused Popeyes to temporarily sell out of their chicken sandwich which only further drove demand and attention to the brand. According to an article from QSR Magazine: “In 2019, Chick-fil-A was one of only six restaurant brands to eclipse $10 billion in domestic sales. But it had far and away the fewest locations. In fact, in all of quick service, Chick-fil-A is just the 19th largest brand on the map.” These brands both thrived on the awareness and hype built through successful social media campaigns. While most businesses will not be the next viral sensation, the Chicken Sandwich War prove that social media is a valuable tool to drive awareness of a brand. Engage in conversations, tweet about trending topics, and don’t be afraid to show a little humor on social media. A brand’s social media channels are a way for the business to connect personally with consumers in an increasingly impersonal world.
Value-Based Customer Loyalty
While social media is a battlefield for the Chicken Sandwich Wars, it is also a battleground for more serious debates and social issues. Chick-Fil-A is known for supporting certain religious organizations, while new entrant to the Chicken Wars, Burger King, has vowed to donate a portion of its sales of the Ch’King sandwich to LGBTQ+ charities. it should be no surprise that consumers have made their feelings known about how these respective stances affect their purchasing decisions. As long as it is behaving legally and ethically, a business is entitles to support what ever causes, ideals, beliefs and values it chooses, but it is important to know that now more than ever consumers are making their choices based on those factors. With more options, and more access to those options through the internet, discerning consumers can demonstrate loyalty to brands that they believe share their beliefs and ideals. The younger generation of consumers are more aware of the economic, environmental and social implications of the companies they support. According to an article from smallbiztrends.com 83% of the millennial demographic stress the importance of value alignment with a company they are buying from. Social media and the shift to value based customer loyalty are not going away anytime soon. If a business hopes to win any of the battles in its industry it must learn how to wield the weapons of social media and customer loyalty.
While the chicken sandwich superpowers may be enjoying the largest spoils of the Chicken Sandwich Wars, there are many small to medium sized businesses and websites staking a claim for themselves in this new food order. These profiteers include local restaurants, food blogs, recipe websites, or even bloggers looking to get easy clicks by using popular trending keywords.
Through proper website optimization, even a website for a small local business can stand shoulder to shoulder with the giants. Performing a search for chicken sandwich in Portland, OR, I got the result below:
Within this result and the blogs, articles, and videos featured further down the page, there is very little mention or search result real estate dedicated to the large fast food chains.
- Using proper local website optimization and structured data two local restaurants show up in the map pack before Burger King.
- All four “People Also Ask” questions are answered by food blogs.
- The highly visual (and hunger inducing) recipe results use recipe and rating markup to make their pages stand out and attract click through.
Website optimization is an ongoing and involved process including technical optimization, content writing, and managing user experience on a website. When these elements come together in harmony on a website any business can rank right up top with the big names in the industry.
If the Chicken Sandwich Wars can teach us anything it is that through proper use of social media, demonstration of company values, and optimization of web presence any business can capture the eyes (and in this case stomachs) of consumers. The team at Anvil Media is here to help your business optimize these elements and more. If your business needs help with Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, or Paid Advertising contact us today!