Church’s Chicken is gearing up for an eventful 2019. After a stellar year, one that saw the 66-year-old brand produce its best comparable sales performance since 2014, the company announced its first global brand positioning ever back in October. Details are still trickling out, but it promises to be a broad refresh that touches nearly every aspect of the organization—from internal communication to training and service delivery, uniforms, product innovation, and more.
RELATED: Why 2019 will be a game-changer for Church’s Chicken.
One tangible change took place in early December, when Church’s announced that Alan Magee, formerly senior director of brand marketing at Moe’s Southwest Grill, was joining the company as its VP of digital marketing and technology. Magee took some time to chat with QSR about his plans for the role, how Church’s continues to evolve, and what we should expect from a transformative 2019.
Church’s Chicken has made great strides in the past year across several fronts. One of them is marketing and adjusting to a new era of digital information. How has the chain’s strategy shifted to meet changing customer demand, as well as taking advantage of the resources available?
It all starts with understanding our consumers and how they engage with brands—both our own and those of our competitors. Our approach is rooted in “consumer centric” market analysis. Basically, we review consumer engagement on digital channels as a primary source of information and communications. Insights learned are then broken down and analyzed for digital media, consumer relationship management, and social media strategy to develop marketing content that contains the right messages at the right times, and to the right people. You can see this approach playing out in our marketing activities, but also in the way we’re adapting the operational side of our business. Accessibility, for example, in terms of delivery and ordering ahead have been key areas of focus recently. By honing in on those new avenues for the brand, we have been able to cultivate new guest relationships and deepen our connection to existing core guests. That’s important for our success now and going forward. As consumer needs change, our brand will need to continue to evolve right alongside them to stay relevant.
How do you approach this challenge regarding less urban market areas, and areas where traditional advertising is still effective?
Traditional advertising is still effective for our brand because our guests still consume a variety of different types of media—including traditional placements like print, TV, outdoor, and radio. We do realize, however, that people in general are spending more time than ever looking at their mobile devices. As a brand, that’s a connection we do not want to overlook—it’s where our guests are, and we need to be there and capitalize on opportunities.
What we’ve found upon examining our markets is that geographically, there is very little differentiation in media consumption. Guests in urban, suburban, and rural areas all have mobile devices, so the key is to connect with all guests in all areas through that channel. Clearly, as far as traditional spending goes in those areas—we evaluate on the size and density of the market, but always with the awareness and understanding that traditional messaging and digital/mobile messaging should be consistent with each other and amplify the overall impact.