Foodservice

Why a Fried Chicken QSR Is Right for Convenience-Store Franchisees

Photograph: Chester's International

Across foodservice categories, fried chicken drives sales and foot traffic—and for convenience stores, amping up the quality of fried chicken dishes offers a great way to not just cash in on the trend, but to compete for sales with area restaurants, too.

Chicken in high demand

Consumers eat a lot of chicken—and quality fried chicken is their favorite way to enjoy it. According to Technomic’s 2021 Center of the Plate: PoultryConsumer Trend Report, 77% of consumers eat chicken at least weekly, with 23% saying they eat it four times a week or more. When ordering chicken from foodservice, quality-related attributes are the name of the game: “Fresh” is the No. 1 attribute that drives purchases of foodservice poultry dishes, with 73% of consumers saying they’d be more likely to purchase a menu item with this claim and 40% saying they would even pay more for it. “Made from scratch” and “real” follow closely behind as the No. 2 and No. 3 most effective purchase drivers. As for preparation style, “fried” is consumers’ favorite—fried chicken is the No. 1 chicken dish consumers say they’d order at least occasionally.

Quality, variety driving sales

Fried chicken’s popularity has made it nearly ubiquitous across foodservice categories, thus underscoring the need for differentiation to draw customers in and keep them coming back for more. Fast-food restaurants, for example, are c-stores’ greatest competitor for lunchtime foodservice sales, according to Technomic’s Q2 2022 C-Store Consumer Marketbrief—but offering quality foods can help retailers tip the scale. About one in four consumers say higher-quality and better-tasting items would prompt them to increase visits to c-stores for lunch. Technomic’s Q2 2022 Translating Trends report emphasizes that a well-executed c-store fried chicken program can help retailers effectively compete with QSRs—and that fried chicken value meals can help drive sales for the dinner daypart, too.

Flavor innovation and variety also provide effective ways for c-stores to differentiate their fried chicken offerings from competitors and keep customers coming back for more without getting tired of the same options. According to Technomic’s Poultry report, 38% of consumers would be interested in trying chicken entrees made with new/unique flavors and sauces.

Trending recipes

Honey Stung Sandwiches and Bites from Chester’s Chicken, for example, leverage trending flavors to drive hype. According to Ignite menu data, honey sauce and hot sauce are among the fastest-growing sauces paired with chicken, with about 10% menu penetration each. Chester’s Honey Stung chicken combines two trending flavors in one great recipe: The sandwich and bites feature the brand’s signature specially marinated, double-breaded and fried fresh chicken “sauced and tossed” in Frank’s RedHot® Stingin’ Honey Garlic™ Sauce to give it a spicy, garlicky blend of sweetness and heat.

Retailers are already seeing success with the Honey Stung recipe. Chester’s reports that sales of Fried Chicken Sandwiches at its largest retailer increased by nearly 50% this summer during the Honey Stung Sandwich promotion. Plus, the Honey Stung Sandwich won CSP’s Retailer’s Choice Best New Product Award for 2022.  

Chester’s Chicken doesn’t just offer its franchisees the opportunity to sell great food, but also serves as a strategic partner. Chester’s offers pre-opening support and consultation services for margin management, and also helps with employee training to ensure customer satisfaction and efficiency behind the scenes—especially important as improving employee retention and labor efficiency are forefront goals for most retailers.

To learn more about how convenience retailers can bring a Chester’s Chicken QSR franchise to their stores and begin reaping the benefits, visit www.chesterschicken.com/franchise-with-us.

This post is sponsored by Chester’s Chicken

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