I can’t figure out what’s been going on lately with chain restaurants/ fast food chains specifically. Today in USA Today there was an article explaining the recession and its impact on these chains. They blame the vast changes taking place in companies such as Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and KFC to the declining sales due to the poor economy.
I realize that major changes need to have taken place in order for these companies to stay a float, but for a lot of the companies, they sacrificed their loyalty to their original product. KFC, for example, now sells K*GC = Kentucky Grilled Chicken. That’s a great idea, don’t get me wrong. They specialize in clogging arteries so to offer something other than starchy biscuits, and deep fried chicken wings is a smart tactic to help expand their company. But I truthfully think it’s taking away their “niche”. 90% of the people who have chosen KFC in the past do NOT watch their waist for the most part, and are not health conscious. It’s pretty matter-of-fact. If they were health conscious, they wouldn’t have chosen KFC. With that in mind, they are now incorporating a new “type of clientele”. One that orders grilled chicken in a bucket — who may that be exactly? The wealthy socialite watching her diet? Highly doubtful she’d want to be seen pulling through the drive through of this joint. Would it be the already “oh so frequent” KFC customer? Well, no. I don’t think they would opt for the lower cal version of their favorite comfort food. So when you think about it, who really are they aiming this towrds? I read that their sales are up, yet, I am a bit surprised at the fact.
With places like McDonald’s for instance, their inclusion of “Deluxe Coffee Drinks” seems to perplex me yet again. I don’t think that this would have been my PR idea for the company that’s flopping in declining sales. “Hey guys, let’s try to compete with the already ridiculous zoo that IS the coffee industry.” There’s no way McDonald’s can compete with the big boys, i.e. Dunkin and Starbucks– it’s just not possible. So with that in mind, the pick of a deluxe coffee line? Seems somewhat dumb. I would have chosen perhaps to expand their breakfast options — include more variations of bagels, muffins, omelets. Breakfast is a cheap and satisfying meal that can be enjoyed throughout the day, as opposed to just the mornings. I would have perhaps even mentioned including FROZEN YOGURT into their dessert menu. Why not? That’s a trend that is RED HOT at the moment–allow for blend ins like they already have with their McFlurry’s. Granola, strawberries, the possibilities are endless.
The only chain I think hit home run was Pizza Hut. The new “family style pasta dinner” option was brilliant. Why you may ask? Well, the people who eat at Pizza Hut MOST of the time are families, or parents with children – however you wish to word it. I remember I used to beg my baby sitter to order us Pizza Hut and Little Caesar’s when my parent’s went out for the night. This is just another great option on their menu. Kids and parents alike enjoy pasta dinners cheap. On weeknights this would be a great option for a mom who has no time to cook and wishes to bring in some food a “bit” less unhealthy than pizza.
While I understand these major chains are in desperate need of boosts in sales, I think only a few have really come up with innovative and spot on expansions in their menus. Personally, I think the changes in menus will lead to an ultimately different type of clientele for the restaurants. If they don’t mind that their loyal fan bases will gradually be changing, then so be it. I think, however, it’s important to keep in mind the recession will turn around soon enough and the people who have always been devoted fans of the “Kentucky Fried Chicken” let’s say, may not be so loyal anymore.