Mar 28, 2019 | Report Announcements

Church’s Chicken is a 65+ year old regional brand that is well established as a key chicken segment player (especially within core markets). Its ongoing brand repositioning includes: new marketing efforts; improved communication/relationships with franchisees & employees (new Excellence Advisory Council); supply chain improvements; and new, contemporary remodel elements and training. Its brand new “Bringin’ That Down Home Flavor” campaign will introduce Church’s fresh, contemporary look & feel that emphasizes the brand’s culinary skill (Texas heritage) and personal authenticity. TV spots (first national campaign in decades) are shot in a test kitchen, highlighting fresh ingredients and careful preparation. The brand seeks to expand its reach to a new generation of guests that are driven by different expectations around services like digital & delivery and the new VP of digital marketing & technology brings to bear “consumer centric” market analysis used as a basis to form digital media marketing, consumer relationship management and social media strategy. Church’s strategy is to target both long-time loyalists along with new guests with Church’s mix of Southern heritage and bold Texas taste provided by its original hand-battered fried chicken (that can be spiced with jalapenos to squeeze on top) which is complimented by classics that include baked macaroni & cheese and scratch-made Honey Butter Biscuits. Its value proposition is augmented by customization and a complete, authentic meal prepared by hand by real people at a competitive price and chicken is made in small batches all day long while biscuits are drizzled with sweet honey-butter right out of the oven. Discount promotions in store windows are important sales drivers with bundle deals at the $5, $10 & $20 price points (dark meat offers provide more pieces for the money) and national promotions also feature $5, $15 & $20 price points. 3rd party delivery is available in 62% of system and Church’s will soon launch order-ahead & pickup as well. Having said all this, sales trends for this smallest national bone-in chicken player have been pressured by: lack of media efficiency; strong competition from national bone-in chicken players (particularly Popeyes & KFC) and regional bone-in players (like Chicken Express in Texas); QSR sandwich discounting to go with this segment’s strong incursion into chicken products (such as Burger King’s 10 chicken nuggets for $1 promotion); increased competition from supermarkets; and a secular trend towards healthier foods & boneless chicken. Church’s orientation towards inner cities has also magnified segment sales challenges given an extended period of consumer weakness among the lower income demo. Resultantly, its franchisee AUV has not increased much beyond its 2011 level thus slowing the pace of reimaging and development. In conclusion, Church’s is executing around a solid strategy that should help sales, unit level profitability and capital investment over time.

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