Burger King’s “Ch’King” hit the nationwide scene June 3. The sandwich, two years in development, is hand-breaded. Burger King had to invest in fresh training and equipment to make it. Per CNBC, the name hails from a customer who, during testing, told employees Burger King should change its name to “Chicken King.”
The brand launched with a deal where customers who ordered the Ch’King (there’s also a Spicy Ch’King and Deluxe option) on the BK app or website got a free Whopper.
And a day later, Burger King took to social media. The brand posted it would donate 40 cents up to $250,000 for every sandwich sold this month to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group in the U.S. In that message, there was an “(even on Sundays)” comment that sent the news viral. It came a week or so after The Daily Beast released a story that reported the Equality Act, a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community in most settings, was being railed against by the National Christian Charitable Foundation. Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy is one of the biggest donors of the organization.
While a far different scenario from Popeyes' social tussle, Burger King’s chicken sandwich collected no shortage of attention by involving Chick-fil-A again—albeit veiled this time.
Back in February, Revenue Management Solutions said Chick-fil-A enjoyed 75 percent awareness among guests for its offering. The company asked consumers to recall brands that offer chicken sandwiches and report on sandwiches they crave most. Chick-fil-A was the clear winner, despite being significantly smaller, unit count wise, than much of the pack. So it’s understandable why competition would want to poke the front-runner.
RMS ran another round of data in late April, namely to take stock of McDonald’s entry into the race.
Chick-fil-A maintained its top billing among national brands for craveability, while McDonald’s charted a steady increase from February.
When it came to awareness, the category hype seemed to improve overall awareness of chicken sandwiches.
Additionally, between RMS’ first and third surveys, the percentage of frequent users who order food from a quick-service increased, predominantly driven by millennials and Gen Z, a segment that engages widely with their favorite brands on social media.
Let’s take this conversation to the present, however. Mobile location analytics platform Placer.ai looked at some recent chicken sandwich results to paint a broader picture, including how the product affected Burger King’s patterns so far.
Firstly, initially surges Popeyes made in August and October 2019 have gone far beyond short-term bumps (as the $400K AUV lift proves). Rather the chain’s chicken sandwich fundamentally shifted the positioning of the brand. In chatter, in culture, at the store level. Even with international potential.
When looking at 2021 monthly visits compared to 2019, Placer.ai recognized impressive growth where you’d expect to see COVID-19-infuenced downturns. Popeyes’ visits for the first five months of 2021 were up over the equivalent months in 2019 by an average of 21.6 percent.
“This massive jump shows that the brand succeeded in turning the initial wave of chicken sandwich driven visits into loyal customers and a wider overall audience,” Placer.ai said.