Popeyes aims to marry innovation with value

by Eric Schroeder
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Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen meal
Popeyes believes it has great breadth across its menu.

ORLANDO, FLA. — Value is a vital part of the brand proposition at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc., the company’s chief executive told participants at the ICR Conference held Jan. 9-11 in Orlando.

Cheryl Bachelder, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Cheryl Bachelder, c.e.o. of Popeyes

“We are a quick-service restaurant, but what we stand for is this amazing Louisiana food,” said Cheryl Bachelder, c.e.o. of Atlanta-based Popeyes.

Pointing out that value means different things to quick-service restaurant companies, an analyst during the presentation asked Ms. Bachelder to define what value means for Popeyes.

Ms. Bachelder responded, “We have great breadth in our menu to play with and innovate in chicken, in rice, in seafood, all these amazing flavors that we have to come straight out of a Louisiana cookbook. So we have a great brand for innovation. And we are in a value sector called quick-service. So we always have aimed to marry innovation with value.”

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant
Popeyes’ strategy has been to stay on track to balance innovation with value.

One of the challenges Popeyes faced in 2016 was lower beef prices, which allowed the restaurant chain’s burger competitors in the Q.S.R. industry to get aggressive with value pricing.

“That is a natural thing that happens in our category,” she explained. “But it was really quite raucous in the first half of the year — we hadn’t had that kind of value proposition in burgers for quite a while. And we felt that in our comps.”

But Ms. Bachelder said Popeyes’ strategy has been to stay on track to balance innovation with value and never to err completely to a pure value play, “because it is not a replicable long-term strategy.”

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Wicked Chicken
Wicked Chicken is a fan favorite at Popeyes.

“With a great brand like ours, we will always be seeking to do both,” she said.

An example of Popeyes’ effort to balance innovation with value involved the restaurant chain’s $4 promotion for its Wicked Chicken last fall.

“Wicked Chicken is one of our customers’ favorite innovations from Popeyes, it is a really cool kind of naughty product — it is delicious,” she said. “And it was $4. And so it did both; it got you back in the restaurant for a really fun new product that you love for $4. And so you will see us doing both as we go into 2017.”
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