Magazine article Marketing

A Chicken and Egg Problem

Magazine article Marketing

A Chicken and Egg Problem

Article excerpt

KFC must defy consumer preconceptions to succeed with its breakfast offer, writes John Reynolds.

KFC's decision to rethink its trial breakfast menu in favour of a more mainstream offering, ahead of an expected national roll-out of 'KFC A.M.', marks its second attempt to establish itself as a provider of meals throughout the day.

Like other fast-food chains, KFC has benefited from the recession and last year unveiled plans to open 200 more restaurants and create 9000 jobs as part of a blitz on the UK market. Yet, the highly lucrative breakfast sector, which is estimated to be worth pounds 289m and accounts for 10% of fast-food sales, is rife with competition and KFC has yet to make a breakthrough.

KFC took its first stab at tapping into the market in 2008, when it trialled a breakfast menu in a few selected outlets, including its flagship Marble Arch restaurant in London.

The chain is now trialling a streamlined menu in Glasgow, Cardiff, Plymouth and London, having dropped relatively exotic items such as French toast and waffles. Options have now reverted to rather simpler staples including breakfast rolls, bacon, egg and sausages.

Jane Walker, senior marketing manager at KFC owner Yum! Brands, believes the latest menu has a more mainstream appeal than its predecessor. 'The products are much lower risk and typical of what British consumers eat at breakfast,' she says.

Walker denies, however, that the change of tack marks a downmarket shift to fare more typical of a high-street cafe. 'The ingredients are all premium to ensure we deliver the best tasting breakfast on the high street,' she insists. She also points out that the breakfast items are cooked fresh daily and that KFC's Lavazza Tierra coffee offering is Rainforest Alliance-certified.

Changing perceptions

Nonetheless, KFC has a significant problem on its plate. Observes argue that it faces an uphill task in its quest to be accepted as a credible place to eat breakfast. This despite its recent history of pushing into new categories, such as Halal-only outlets and the addition of healthier griddled-chicken alternatives.

Simon Williams, chief growth officer at brand consultancy FutureBrand, argues that the main challenge comes from the fact that consumers' long-held perception of the brand is not a natural fit with a breakfast menu. 'KFC's highest association is with chicken,' he says. …

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