Saturday, April 13, 2024

KFC an Example of Brand Protectionism Stifling Growth


Losing customer relevance is a branding disaster.  When a legacy restaurant brand is forced to chase after customer with price it is a sure sign that the brand messaging has been adrift for quite some time according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. 

Once considered a leader within the grocerant niche KFC and done little other than capitulate chicken meal market share to other chain restaurants, convenience stores, and grocer’s service deli for 20 years. 

Here are 8 potential signs that KFC might be facing challenges:

1.       Shifting Consumer Preferences: Consumers are increasingly health-conscious, favoring fresher ingredients, healthier cooking methods (baked vs fried), and options catering to dietary restrictions (vegetarian, gluten-free). KFC's core menu might be seen as less aligned with these trends.

2.       Competition: Fast food is a competitive landscape. Chains like Chick-fil-A and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen offer similar fried chicken options, while others focus on healthier alternatives or specific flavor profiles. KFC might need to innovate to stand out.

3.       Value Perception: Fast food is typically seen as affordable. If KFC's pricing is perceived as not offering good value compared to portion sizes or healthier options elsewhere, it could be a turnoff.

4.       Restaurant Experience: The overall dining experience, including cleanliness, ambiance, and service, can impact brand perception. KFC might need to consider if their restaurants are keeping up with competitors in these areas.

5.       Menu Innovation: A stagnant menu can be a sign a brand isn't adapting. If KFC isn't introducing new and exciting menu items, it might risk losing customers who crave variety.

6.       Marketing and Branding: Staying relevant requires effective marketing. If KFC's marketing isn't reaching its target audience or resonating with consumers, it could be missing opportunities.

7.       Negative Press: Negative publicity about ingredients, health concerns, or animal welfare practices can damage a brand's reputation.

8.       Slow Sales Growth: While all data is not publicly available data, stagnant or declining sales figures could be a sign KFC is struggling.

It's important to note that these are just potential signs, and KFC might be taking steps to address them. They may be investing in menu innovation, healthier options, or a more modern restaurant experience. Ultimately, KFC's success will depend on its ability to adapt to consumer preferences and a competitive market.


The question is Price the answer? In its bid to win over value-seeking consumers, KFC today introduced a “Taste of KFC Deals” value menu, with offerings starting at $4.99. The KFC Deals, available in-store and digitally, include:

·         $4.99 Meal for One: Two pieces of chicken (drum and thigh), mashed potatoes and gravy, and an extra biscuit for $4.99.

·         Meal for Two: four pieces of chicken (drum, thigh, breast, wing), mashed potatoes and gravy, two extra biscuits. Prices vary by location, but in the Louisville, Ky., market, it is available for $10.

·         $20 Family Meal: Six pieces of chicken (two drums, two thighs, one breast, one wing), four individual sides, and four extra biscuits.

·         Taste of KFC Deal: Available only on Tuesdays and as a temporary offer, this $10 deal includes a bucket of eight drums and thighs.

"We created a value menu that actually has value. The new Taste of KFC Deals menu proves you don't have to sacrifice quality or taste to save on food spending,” CMO Nick Chavez said in a statement.

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The question other legacy chain operators is:  Are you being overly protection your brand? So, what is brand protectionism?  Brand Protectionism refers to strategies that companies use to safeguard their brand identity and reputation. In the context of grocerants, this could involve things like:

·         Protecting trademarks and logos

·         Maintaining quality standards across all locations

·         Controlling how the brand is represented in marketing and advertising

There are arguments for and against strong brand protection in the grocerant industry:

Arguments for:

·         Consistency: Customers expect a certain level of quality and experience from a particular grocerant brand. Strong brand protection helps ensure this consistency.

·         Reputation: A grocerant chain's reputation is a valuable asset. Brand protection helps to prevent damage to that reputation.

·         Competitive Advantage: A strong brand can be a competitive advantage, attracting customers and differentiating the grocerant from competitors.

Arguments against:

·         Innovation: Overly strict brand protection can stifle innovation and make it difficult for grocerants to adapt to changing consumer preferences.

·         Flexibility: Grocerants may need to be flexible in their offerings to cater to local tastes and preferences. Strong brand protection can make this difficult.

·         High Costs: Implementing and enforcing strong brand protection strategies can be expensive.

Ultimately, whether the Grocerant Guru® is right about brand protection depends on his specific perspective and the context of the situation. There's a balance to be struck between protecting the brand and allowing for innovation and flexibility.

Are you looking for a new partnership to drive sales? Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing tactics look more like yesterday than tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may have the clue you need to propel your continued success

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