Its customers wanted the original barbecue sauce, so Chick-fil-A brought it back.
After fans of the brand launched a grassroots effort to convince the company to replace its smokehouse barbecue sauce with its original barbecue sauce, Chick-fil-A listened and will make the change starting November 7.
“We like to say that while the Cathy family owns the business, our customers own the brand. It’s critical that we remain in constant dialogue about changes to the menu or guest experience,” David Farmer, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of menu strategy and development, says in an email. “Social media allows us to have very personal and immediate conversations with our guests, which is very different from traditional customer surveys that are often anonymous. We have not seen this level of passion around a menu change that was also something we could course-correct fairly easily. In the past, our menu changes have typically been a result of low sales or operational challenges—this was truly a first for us.”
Thousands of customers took to social media, posting with the hashtag #BringBackTheBBQ, and they didn’t hold back. Fans also created petitions on change.org.
“Hey @wikileaks, have you found any correspondence about the @ChickfilABBQ sauce change? I'd like to see someone brought to justice pls,” one Twitter user wrote.
Chick-fil-A is reaching out to the more than 5,000 individuals who contacted the company about the sauce and will send some customers bottles of the original sauce as well as other items.
Farmer says that the original sauce is a bit sweeter, while the smokehouse barbecue sauce has more kick with a bold pepper note.
“We knew that we had several sauces with fanatical followers, like Chick-fil-A Sauce and Polynesian Sauce. We just didn’t realize that barbecue Sauce was in that category as well,” Farmer says. “We are humbled by the response to our sauces and dressings. Our customers are truly passionate about them. We have done a few stories on our content site, Inside Chick-fil-A, about sauces, and the readership on those stories always blows us away.”
By Alex Dixon