Church’s Chicken celebrates its fifth year of positive same store sales in the U.S. Despite a declining category, the quick-serve chicken brand’s continued success has been attributed in large part to its breakthrough marketing strategy, the success of its new campaign and lineup of new products and an increased focus on non-TV markets.

In fact, Church’s topped the list for best in the competitive positioning category for advertising and promotional strategy in the April 2008 edition of Restaurant Research, ranking above both KFC and Popeyes.

According to Farnaz Wallace, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Church’s, the brand has always won when it comes to delivering real and authentic fried chicken at the best value. Yet now, more than ever, customers need more motivation when it comes to purchasing meals.

“Our quality differentiator is that Church’s offers freshly prepared food that is made with the same care and attention as home cooking–we make our crunchy, juicy chicken right in front of you–at a value that is attractive to your pocketbook,” Wallace says. “But what we’ve found is that customers also want to feel good about their purchasing decision. There’s an emotional satisfaction factor that comes into play, and it is our job to empower our customers with the knowledge that they are making a wise decision when they choose Church’s.”

Wallace explains that the brand’s “I Know What Good Is” advertising campaign caters to Church’s multicultural, cross-generational customer base by acknowledging that the customers themselves have a unique understanding of “good” in their own lives. The campaign gives the customer his or her own voice by focusing on authentic lifestyle scenes that illustrate how Church’s meals offer value and functionality in the customer’s daily life.

“Whether you’re a working mom who wants to provide a home-style meal to her children, or you’re a college student looking for a midnight snack to make it through a cramming session, the ‘I Know What Good Is’ campaign aims to show customers that Church’s is a smart decision for people from all walks of life who, like most Americans these days, are living on a tight budget,” Wallace says.

Church’s marketing team had to use creative problem solving in determining how to communicate its “I Know What Good Is” message, because roughly 35 percent of sales come from its non-TV markets. According to Wallace, the brand chose to spice up non-media market stores with packaging, four-wall posters and point of sale items featuring products with “Good-isms,” or value statements told from the customer’s point of view.

Church’s introduction of its Spicy Chicken, 99-cent Chicken Sandwich and its Boneless Wings have proven to be product heroes for the brand by offering variety by way of new flavors without losing the unique crunch that made Church’s famous 56 years ago, Wallace adds. Through 2008 and into 2009, the brand’s “product pipeline” is filled with even more limited time only offers.

She says that by continuing the Church’s heritage of taking a “no-frills” approach to its advertising budget, messaging and product development, the brand has enjoyed continued success in selling its authentic, quality fried chicken at a great value–something that is increasingly attractive given the current U.S. economy. The brand’s recipe for success is also working internationally, where Church’s has experienced an impressive six years of positive same store sales.

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