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Popeyes looks to repeat ‘Wicked’ success

Popeyes looks to repeat ‘Wicked’ success

Chain brings back Wicked Chicken LTO after selling 900,000 pounds of the item last year

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen said it is bringing back its award-winning Wicked Chicken after the limited-time offer drove strong sales last year.

The spicy Wicked Chicken consists of marinated, breaded and fried chicken strips, thinly sliced and presented in curly, kinky shapes. From May 30 to June 26, Popeyes will serve the chicken with a biscuit, ranch dipping sauce and a mini-bottle of Tabasco sauce for $3.99, the same price as last year.

The Wicked Chicken is served by weight, rather than number of strips, and Popeyes said it sold 900,000 pounds of the item during a month-long promotion last year.

Popeyes’ parent company, Atlanta-based AFC Enterprises Inc., said it has seen solid results from limited-time offers like the Wicked Chicken. Company executives told investors Thursday that promotions in March helped perk up sales in the first quarter of 2011 after weather weighed down results earlier in the year.

In addition to the upcoming return of Wicked Chicken for the second consecutive year, Popeyes also is promoting a buy one, get one free promotion for its traditional bone-in chicken.

RELATED: AFC shares marketing, growth plans

During last week’s NRA Show in Chicago, Nation’s Restaurant News recognized Popeyes’ Wicked Chicken with a MenuMasters Award for Best Limited Time Offer. Popeyes’ chief marketing officer Dick Lynch earlier had told NRN the item was developed to satisfy demand for boneless, portable items.

“[Menu innovation] has to meet real consumer needs to drive traffic. It has got to be relevant and it has got to build brand differentiation,” he said. “This is a great case where Wicked Chicken did all of those things.”

MenuMasters 2011: Popeyes Wicked Chicken
Culinary innovation on display at MenuMasters gala

AFC chief executive Cheryl Bachelder last year credited the Wicked Chicken LTO for driving “top-line momentum” as the company reported a 6.3-percent increase in net income and positive same-store sales for the July 11-ended second quarter.

Popeyes’ same-store sales rose 0.4 percent in the quarter the Wicked Chicken was offered, which marked a sequential improvement over a 0.4-percent dip in the previous quarter, AFC said.

Contact Bret Thorn: [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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