KFC Franchisees Clucking Mad At Corporate Overlords

Tension between many KFC franchisees and the chicken chain’s corporate leaders have reached a fever pitch in recent months, with the suits at HQ trying to revamp the eatery’s image while the upset franchise operators say it’s only alienating customers and hurting business.

Here’s what one woman, who has been a KFC franchisee since 1963, thinks of the company’s current president:

Roger Eaton and his company don’t give a rat’s ass… They hire marketing guys with blue blazers who tell us what to do with our damn stores. But it’s one thing to be behind the big mahogany desk calling the shots and another to be down here in the trenches.

Of particular annoyance to the franchisees was Eaton’s decision to launch the “Unthink KFC” ad campaign in 2009. The ads and marketing for the campaign attempted to shift the focus away from KFC’s tried-and-true business of selling huge buckets of fried chicken and toward grilled chicken and sandwiches.

“‘Unthink’ hurt KFC as a brand,” says another franchisee. “We told our customers not to think of us as a fried chicken chain.”

This move caused the KFC National Council & Advertising Cooperative, which represents all U.S. franchisees, to file a lawsuit earlier this year against KFC to gain control of ad strategy. While that matter is still pending, KFC did axe the “Unthink KFC” campaign in May.

A rep for KFC HQ defended the company’s president and his strategy:

KFC’s strategy is derived from extensive consumer research… While some franchisees may not be aligned with this strategy, Roger Eaton is executing a plan that will ensure the KFC brand remains relevant with consumers.

However, according to a New England franchisee, an internal survey of 642 franchisees showed almost 50 percent of stores’ grilled chicken is thrown away. So maybe what customers say they want in a focus group isn’t what they’ll actually buy.

A man who runs 60 franchises sums it up best:
Kentucky Fried Chicken hit the streets with 11 herbs and spices, pressure-cooked, and by and large the general public doesn’t give a damn how many calories are in it.

Why KFC Franchisees Are Squawking [BusinessWeek]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. dolemite says:

    It’s true…if I want something healthy, I go to subway or something. If I just want some delicious fried greasy chicken, I go to KFC.

    • MadameX says:

      Seriously. Their “grilled” chicken sucks anyway. It’s dry and tasteless. Sometimes it’s okay to splurge and eat unhealthy, greasy fried chicken!

      • Dutchess says:

        I would love their grilled chicken if it didn’t have SOOOOOO much sodium.

        Seriously, I ate a piece of their grilled chicken and I retained more water than the hoover damn!

      • jamar0303 says:

        It’s better in China, but here they seem to throw chili peppers at every other item on the menu, I swear.

        • SaltWater says:

          I hate to tell you, but that probably was not chicken you got served in China.

          • jamar0303 says:

            I know you’re joking, but you’d be surprised. About a quarter of their menu here has no chicken or chicken-related ingredients in it. Shrimp burgers are my favorite followed by the duck porridge on the breakfast menu. (Something about blending in to fit the local market was what the head of the local division said in an interview; it’s also the reason the Double Down never made it here).

        • DeadWriter says:

          Years ago I took a trip to South East Asia. In Cambodia the knock off KFC is Khemer Fried Chicken. I snuck in and got a piece. It was better. Spiced with local peppers I think. From what I understand there is a real KFC in Cambodia now, but the Khemer Fried Chicken, with the same color scheme and design highlights was a hilariously tasty thing to run into while traveling.

    • Griking says:

      You go to Subway for healthy food?

    • MercuryPDX says:

      The one I try to go to always seems to run out of chicken, or crispy strips, or every side but cole slaw.

      I am amazed they still exist.

      • coren says:

        Their inability to keep items in stock might be indicative of popularity rather than poor inventory management

        • MercuryPDX says:

          If I was going by for a late dinner at the end of the day and that was the case, sure.

          If you’re out of chicken at 1:30 in the afternoon, that’s poor inventory management.

  2. Angus99 says:

    I hate marketing guys in blue blazers.

    • Angus99 says:

      Oh, and also Ilinois Nazis.

      • ARP says:

        I love that you came back an hour later to add the B-B reference, as if something. just. doesn’t. feel. right.

    • Tim in Wyoming says:

      I hate Blue Blazers in general… its a good rule of thumb… Where I come from, blue jeans, a button down shirt, and a cowboy hat will get you a lot more respect.

      • sonneillon says:

        Yeah but your Wyoming. How many marketing guys are their in the whole state. Network marketing doesn’t count because it’s bullshit.

        Of course marketing is about appealing to demographics so if they wanted to be successful they would be best served with the attire that you mentioned. If you have people in marketing wearing suits going into a city where you can not buy a suit. You fucked up. Change your cloths.

        • Tim in Wyoming says:

          You’d be surprised how many marketing firms there are here. You’re not far off though. I used to work as a field service rep for a large company. They insisted on a shirt and tie, suit if possible. People around here don’t want to see suits walking around. There is a place for it, but if you are working with Joe at Joe’s Garage, Joe wants to see someone dressed like he is, not some “corporate” guy. But the suits don’t understand that. They have to force their corporate image not what their customers actually want… which ironically kinda ties into this story.

      • alstein says:

        The only Good Blue Blazer was Owen Hart.

  3. BDSanta2001 says:

    “However, according to a New England franchisee, an internal survey of 642 franchisees showed almost 50 percent of stores’ grilled chicken is thrown away.”

    They don’t throw away unsold chicken at the end of the night. It is deboned, cut into smaller pieces and either used in the next day’s chicken pot pie or frozen for use on another day when there wasn’t enough deboned chicken from the previous day.

    • smarmyjones goes cattywampus says:

      It depends on the Franchise. Where I worked our pot pies were only seasonal. If we did have anything left over at night it was given to the employees since it had been sitting out so long they were no longer about to sell it anyway. It’s been awhile, but I don’t remember them deboning chicken at night. What we had left, if anything, was thrown out.

    • Donathius says:

      It also depends on the condition of the chicken. I worked at KFC for 3 years in high school, and we would debone the original and crispy breasts, thighs, and legs, as well as the roasted (when we had Tender Roast in the 90s) breasts, and any salvageable thighs. The problem with the roasted chicken is it turns into jerky in about 30 minutes. The legs will shrink and the wings don’t even approach edibility. Even the original and crispy wings were thrown away anyway since it wasn’t worth the time to try and pull the meat off of them.

    • dr_drift says:

      lol, people actually bought pot pies at the KFCs you guys worked at? Ten years ago, when I worked at a KFC, we deboned chicken at the end of the night, put it in our pot pies and then threw the pot pies away because nobody bought them. It was a hilarious cycle. In fact, since we were all teenagers there, we used to say “Can I get a couple pot pies in?” when there was a hot chick at the counter, seeing as how we would never actually need to make any.

    • lim says:

      We did it more for bbq chicken sandwiches; the leftover chicken was hand shredded then cooked (microwaved) in sauce the next day. It was never the most popular sandwich, but we sold enough of them that the manager would occasionally needed to cook an extra tray just to be deboned at the end of the night.

      Pot pies were always hit or miss. We’d go several days without selling a single one then sell three in one hour. Always had to have a few made just in case the mystery shopper asked for one.

      Of course, this was *cough cough* years ago so things have probably changed considerably.

    • IronPhoenix says:

      So… question. How come they don’t donate the unused/uneaten chicken somewhere? Why throw out perfectly cooked chicken for absolutely no other reason besides it wasn’t purchased the day it was made? Just thinking… what waste.

      • penuspenuspenus says:

        Food safety purposes for one. There are guidelines for how long they can keep that chicken before it is deemed unfit to sell/eat. I’m guessing a lot of that 50% thrown out was product that was kept to be had on hand for future orders and ended up being tossed when it reached that point.

        Chicken isn’t baked goods.

    • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

      In my home state, that would be illegal. Once food has reached a certain age, by law, it must be thrown away. So if you have cooked food that has sat for an hour, it must go in the garbage. They inventory the quantities thrown away as well as the quantity sold so they can prove the numbers for total inventory balance. They aren’t even allowed to donate it to a food bank or anything.

  4. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    You know, owning a franchise is a bit of a gamble. And, with KFC, sometimes you just gotta look at the cards on the table and

    4/12
    DOUBLE DOWN EVERY DAY

  5. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    I think focus groups are crap. Focus groups are akin to a psychologist trying to shrink their own children. I know that doesn’t make sense right away, but think about it a minute. A child growing up with those in the psych field know exactly what their parents are doing, just like focus groups know exactly what the corporate guys want, thus any data you gain is tainted before you even start. Sure, people want healthy food, but I liked my KFC just the way it was. When I want to eat healthy, I don’t eat ANY fast food. KFC and many others are trying to make themselves a seemingly valid choice for any meal. That’s never what fast food was about, and trying to accomplish such is a losing battle.

    • El_Fez says:

      I tried to shrink my own children once, then I lost track of them in the rug. I think I stepped on them shortly thereafter.

    • laffmakr says:

      Living near the world headquarters of KFC, I’ve done a couple of dozen taste panels and one focus group.

      The taste tests are great fun and you get to try some pretty weird stuff. The focus group was bullshit. It felt as if they were trying to manipulate us to verify their opinions.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        They do. I was in a focus group for this product that was a combination of one serving of cereal and one serving of milk that you cold add together–sort of like a Lunchables cereal style. I thought it was an awful idea. There are so many ways someone could put something together like this on their own in about a minute. It was laughable (these days you could use a disposable container and one of those mini boxes of Horizon milk.)

        Anyway, any time I would say anything negative, they would shut me up. They kept asking the same two or three idiots who were enamored with the product the questions.

        They inevitably marketed the product, which failed miserably in a short amount of time.

    • David in Brasil says:

      If I remember my marketing classes correctly, the Ford Edsel was the result of “extensive consumer research”. Ford was astounded when it flopped because they had applied all these newfangled scientific polling and interest group procedures to design that camel.

      • Verdant Pine Trees says:

        Way more complex than your professor may have made it out to be. The marketing buildup for Edsel started a year before it came out; so obviously some people would be disappointed. More importantly, it debuted the same year as the worst recession since World War II ended. It was a historic low in the sales of all cars after years of big success for Detroit.

        The Edsel actually sold in the thousands on its debut week, but it just didn’t have staying power, thanks to the recession. Several months after the Edsel line closed down, the Ford Falcon was breaking all sorts of sales records. People (including the upwardly mobile folks targeted by the Edsel) wanted smaller vehicles that were less expensive to buy and to run. Edsel’s failure makes a lot more sense in that context.

    • runswithscissors says:

      ASK customers what they want and they give you lies, bullsh!t, and garbage. Partly because in group sessions they are concerned with how they appear to the group (and thus answer “more healthy”, “smarter”, etc to improve their social appearance). And partly because they tell you what they think you want to hear. And then wrap that all up in the fact that people aren’t actually very good at determining and verbalizing what they want or need.

      WATCH and OBSERVE customers in real-world situations and then apply creative and critical thinking – that’s how you get real data and opportunity for innovation.

  6. failurate says:

    I was in a focus group that said the Pontiac Aztec was a sweet looking ride and should be built.

    I think the problem with focus groups is the “group” part. People behave differently in groups. You can’t expect their decision in a group to represent what a normal person would do when not in a group.

    It doesn’t help that the KFC grilled chicken sucks. Smaller pieces and a strange flavor, that ain’t gonna sell.

    • MrsLopsided says:

      I saw a focus group reject “You can’t mime-a Aunt Jemima”.
      The marketing gurus who came up with the slogan still wanted to run with it.

    • ARP says:

      But focus “groups” often remove those elements that make it good or unique- i.e. by trying to please everyone, you please no one because it only has a small part their tastes.

      It’s like when I go to a TGIF or Chili’s (which is a little as I can). I pick the thing that is least offensive to me, not the thing that I would like. It’s a compomise order from the start.

    • KhaiJB says:

      “I was in a focus group that said the Pontiac Aztec was a sweet looking ride and should be built.”

      so..it was your fault!

      get the tar and feathers!

    • MFfan310 says:

      I was at the Chicago auto show in 1999, when GM was doing Pontiac Aztek surveys, and said, like the OP, that the concept Pontiac Aztek should be built.

      You heard that right: Concept. We consumers expected GM to put it into production with similar styling to the auto show car. Little did we know what “old GM” was planning on doing with it: taking the cool concept, uglyfying the styling, and putting the mess on a GM minivan platform. What GM did to the concept at Chicago in 1999 with the production car unveiled at the 2000 Detroit auto show is why the Aztek failed miserably.

      Oh, and I like KFC. The local one is pretty darn good, and it’s run by a great local franchisee that also runs the local Pizza Huts.

    • veronykah says:

      I was in a focus group for the Smart Car before it was available in the US. Everyone else was in their 50s and I was probably 24.
      I told them it looked stupid and no one my age would ever drive one, all the 50 year olds thought it was great.
      I’m 31 now and still wouldn’t drive one.

  7. FrugalFreak says:

    The franchise stores are rolling in profit due to products costing so much and rarely releasing coupons of thier own. They are usually in area’s with no competing food group. Of course they don’t want you paying a reasonable price for food. My local chix shack 3 peice meal is dang near $7. I can go over to next city over at company owned and save with coupon.

    • ludwigk says:

      Their prices are high. Lucky’s (grocery store) sells great fried chicken (on a fastfood scale) that’s about half the price of KFC. The only problem is that their sides are kind of lame. I know KFC has terrible sides, but I still like the way that they taste.

      • Salty Johnson says:

        The sides are lame? There’s a whole deli case full of salads to choose from!

        (I work in the deli at a Lucky, and yes our fried chicken is awesome.)

    • rpm773 says:

      So you’re siding with the big man because the middle man is screwing the little man?

      Man…

  8. DJSeanMac says:

    I’m more confounded by the rollout of the “Doublicious”. We got coupons in our mailbox, a big sign at the KFC on the corner, and posters in their windows…and not one single mention of what the heck a “Doublicious” was or why I should consider trying it.

    While ordering some tacos (it’s a Taco Bell, too), I asked the drive-thru employee what a “Doublicious” is. It’s just a chicken sandwich made with sweet Hawaiian bread instead of a traditional bun. You’d think they’d have mentioned this ANYWHERE in the advertising, right?

    • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

      Err. It’s the double down. On bread. With only one chicken piece. So, slightly different from their standard chicken sandwich.

    • consumer420 says:

      I got my coupon for a free Doublicious at a KFC that was well out of my way. I went there anyway, and ended up getting a $40 speed camera ticket right in front of the store. So much for a free sandwich.
      The sandwich was good, but I think the Double Down is better.

  9. Kitty Conner says:

    Honestly, the caloric difference between the Grilled and the Original Recipe isn’t SO SO vast that I’m going to forego the crispy, delicious breading.

    And I say this as a vigilant calorie-counter. It’s one of those trade-offs. I can spend ‘X’ calories and get this thing that isn’t KFC, or I can spend ‘X’ + 100 calories to get actual KFC and be satisfied. Sure, I have to cut back 100 cals someplace else, but at least I got my real fried chicken, 11 herbs and spices fix.

    I can’t imagine I’m the only one with this rationalization.

    • jefeloco says:

      You’re not. Another point to consider is that the grilled junk from KFC has a lot more salt while it is mildly offsetting those precious few calories.

      I’ll have to look it up to be sure, but I believe that they also use beef stock/flavorings on the grilled that might disagree with non-beef eaters…

  10. CaptCynic says:

    As someone who works in marketing… your strategy can be “derived from extensive consumer research” and still suck.

  11. PanCake BuTT says:

    Docs discover pea sprouting in Mass. man’s lung *startling*

  12. El_Fez says:

    Wasn’t “Unthink” what the kid in that Twilight Zone episode did to people when he put into the corn field?

    • NewsMuncher says:

      Bill Mumy is awesome.

      • NewsMuncher says:

        Oh.
        And I believe it is what he did.
        I also think that episode was based upon “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert A. Heinlein – the superpower anyway… not the exhibitionist girlfriend and crazy soylent green type church.

  13. RandomHookup says:

    I see your problem. It’s really hard to run a restaurant from inside a trench. I recommend a change of scenery.

  14. FrugalFreak says:

    Here’s what one woman, who has been a KFC franchisee since 1963, thinks of the company’s current president:

    “
    Roger Eaton and his company don’t give a rat’s ass… They hire marketing guys with blue blazers who tell us what to do with our damn stores. But it’s one thing to be behind the big mahogany desk calling the shots and another to be down here in the trenches.
    ”

    You buy into a franchise under certain rules and then don’t want to play along? I think the franchises should be given their wish, release them from KFC Corporate and make them STOP using the KFC name. Let’s see how well they survive then.

    • ARP says:

      Because they relied on KFC to keep to its core values (and products). Their foolish (and likely temporary) change in strategy could cost them a lot of money.

      This is very similar to what we complain about all the time- banks and telecoms unilaterally changing terms on us. Only they’re not giving up just an ETF if they want to quit, they’re giving up most of their livelihoods.

      The “just don’t buy it if you don’t agree to the terms” really isn’t helpful and isn’t realistic unless you want to live in a cave.

    • lim says:

      From his profile on Forbes.com-Roger Eaton, 49, is President and Chief Concept Officer of KFC. He has served in this position since June 2008.

      She has owned her franchisee since before he could SAY chicken properly. Harland Sanders probably visited and critiqued her restaurant at some point. It is quite probable that the rules have changed since then, but it is also a durned good possibility that the changes the current big-wigs have made do not reflect the values and image she initially bought into and has been operating by for the past 47 years.

  15. humphrmi says:

    I gotta agree with the franchisees… if I want healthy grilled chicken, I’ll go somewhere else. If KFC doesn’t want to sell me unhealthy, deep fried chicken then I’ll go somewhere else. They’d better figure out what they want to sell me, or not sell me, who cares, I’ve got Popeyes.

  16. kataisa says:

    KFC’s strategy is derived from extensive consumer research

    It’s strange how corporations claim their lame strategies are “based on extensive consumer research” and yet they it never occurs to any of them that their best research can be found in their franchise managers who actually know what the customers want.

    The Colonel hated how the KFC suits were ruining his brand for years and if he saw the new strategies they’re laying out now he’d be disgusted with them all over again.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      The managers would report what the most profit items are, not what was most popular or what people wanted. Better to ask the people who buy the product.

  17. duxup says:

    “big mahogany desk calling the shots”

    Isn’t that kind of what you sign up for when you buy a franchise?

    • FrugalFreak says:

      +1 EXACTLY RIGHT!

    • lim says:

      I’m sure the guy who owns 60 of them has a pretty nice set up, but the one I worked at was owned by a gentleman who just owned the one. He had an old metal desk like the teachers used to have and his chair was frequently used as an impromptu step ladder. His home (where we had the Christmas and summer parties) was nice, but not anything you’d look twice at.

      If you don’t go big (like Mr. 60+) it’s a small business and small businesses don’t have as much room for excess if they are going to survive.

      • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

        Agreed. I have been around some small franchise owners. They work insanely long hours and for not that much in return given their work load.

  18. common_sense84 says:

    “However, according to a New England franchisee, an internal survey of 642 franchisees showed almost 50 percent of stores’ grilled chicken is thrown away. So maybe what customers say they want in a focus group isn’t what they’ll actually buy.”

    Lower the damn prices. No one eats there because the prices are so damn high.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      and that is what this whole mess is really about. Franchise owners prefer the high prices while corporate want’s more customers with a wider variety of items for everyone. If left up to franchises, only the rich could afford them. Cheaper items and “specials” or discounts wouldn’t exist unless they were “fake” discounts.

      • qualia says:

        I’d prefer less variety and better goddamn food, personally. Make 20 things fantastically rather than 80 dollar menu pressed pre-formed crap bricks, please.

    • Abradax says:

      Prepare less of the crap. My local KFC has 0 problems telling me they are out of Grilled and asks if I prefer something instead.

      If I really want small, dry chicken, I’ll wait.
      (Seriously, wtf is up with the size of the grilled chicken? There is no way the chicken comes from the same source as the fried chicken)

      • XTC46 says:

        They are the same size if you take away the inch thick layer of breading on the fried version. At least at the KFC near me.

  19. Froggmann says:

    ” So maybe what customers say they want in a focus group isn’t what they’ll actually buy.”

    Well, there’s your problem!

  20. DanKelley98 says:

    We’re from corporate and we’re here to help. NOT.

    • jamar0303 says:

      On the other hand, without Corporate they wouldn’t have a name recognized all over the world to use. They can go independent if they hate corporate so much.

  21. rage says:

    Am i getting older their original recipe chicken doesn’t taste the same as 30 years ago.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Yeah I know what you’re talking about but I find the taste of their chicken, cole slaw, and gravy depends upon the restaurant. Where I live there is a KFC about 2 miles from me that imo has the perfect KFC taste. I visited the original KtFC in Corbin, KY in 2008 and it was so cool to eat there and visit the kitchen and office area that the Colonel worked in. He’s a really short dude. The chicken was ‘ok’ but not as good as at my restaurant.

      • GrandizerGo says:

        Don’t forget that they no longer fry in oils with transfats in them anymore.
        That changes the flavor.

    • prizgrizbiz says:

      Yes, I am pretty sure you are getting older.

  22. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    At least the guys in the blue blazers, with their survey/focus group research in hand, didn’t find their way up here. In Canada, KFC still uses “finger lickin’ good” as its slogan. Whether or not one actually agrees is another matter — had some the other day and wow, it sure doesn’t taste the way I remembered it in all its yummy goodness back was I was much younger.

    • lim says:

      I so s. o. h.a.t.e. hate the new slogan.

      “For 70 years there’s been only one way to describe the world’s best chicken.” Really? Does that mean the ad ISN’T about KFC because I kinda remember some other words being bandied about to describe it for just a little while.

  23. ophmarketing says:

    When was the last time “marketing guys” wore blue blazers? Has that franchisee been watching “Mad Men” again?

    • zibby says:

      Yeah, plus a blue blazer is generally more appropriate for something like a function at one’s country club than everyday business attire. Not that it can’t be pulled off, but you don’t see it that much.

  24. zogr says:

    Popeyes has made better fried chicken for years because they don’t apologize for using Hydrogenated (trans) fat. Listen to the people Corp KFC !

    • Pax says:

      I wouldn’t know – I don’t think there _IS_ a Popeye’s in New England, nor especially, within a hundredmiles of where I am (northeastern Massachusetts).

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        Sucks to be you. There are several Popeyes here in T-dot. Unfortunately, they don’t deliver. KFC does. More Colonel, less Popeyes.

      • twonewfs says:

        Hey, I’m in Northeastern MA too. I checked Popeye’s web page (I keep remembering Chik-fil-A’s and getting confused) There’s one in Brockton, and one in Roslindale. Road trip!.

      • alstein says:

        Zaxby’s is a pretty good KFC alternative also.

    • JMILLER says:

      You really should learn something before you speak. They cook in very similar oil, and trans fat has NOTHING to do with flavor. Hydrogenation is a stabelizer for oil to handle high heat and last longer. There is no such thing as truly ZERO trans fat hydrogenated oil, but the FDA says if a portion has less than a half gram it can be deemed zero.
      I am not going to get into the science and specs on either companies oil, but I can assure you, you are way off base.

  25. PerpetualStudent says:

    The quality of our local KFC has dropped considerably.

    We laughed when our roommate got snackers with no chicken.
    We thought it was annoying when you would order a meal and get mostly small drumsticks and wings, one thigh, and no breasts.
    We said we would never go back after our hot wings were nothing but deep fried bones (seriously, no meat) and got cold/old chicken in a warmed bucket.
    Complained to the manager and the guy just shrugged and asked what we wanted and then proceeded to say he couldn’t do anything.

    KFC should go back to making good, fresh, fried chicken meals.

  26. JMILLER says:

    Having dealt with a LARGE number of both McDonald’s owner operators and KFC franchisees, I can tell you the franchisees ALWAYS think corporate doesn’t know shit. McDonald’s franchisees thought accepting credit cards was STUPID. They did it at the corporate stores and all of a sudden they realized they were out of touch with reality. The McCafe concept was “destined for failure” according to a franchisee I spoke with. His exact word were “we aren’t Starbucks”. Too bad corporate sees system wide sales increase, while Starbucks loses business.
    As for KFC, I would suggest they look at CHick Fil A. This is their main competition. Per unit sales are increasing and more than at KFC.KFC has always had the problem of being stuck in a 1960’s mentality. That is due to “one woman, who has been a KFC franchisee since 1963″ are the people running the show. KFC has never stopped selling buckets of chicken., but the reason corporate tries new things is because the chain is LOSING market share, If they stay on the path that the old school franchisees want, they will be out of business.

  27. quail says:

    Focus groups are not objective. Thought it hysterical the guy who commented about being in one dealing with the Pontiac Aztec. I was in one dealing with movie posters and the marketing of a horror movie. It was the 1980s and we picked some good looking posters. Imagine my surprise when the next time I saw the posters it was in newspaper ads. They were small, black & white, and they looked horrible in that format. When they were presented during the focus group they were big, colorful posters. They never showed up as posters in the cinema poster cases either. Made me wonder what the point was.

    Curious as to how he KFC focus groups were run too. What way were the sandwiches presented?

  28. ErnestPayne says:

    Well actually I (and others) do think of the calories, sodium, and saturated fats. I never think of KFC when it comes to fast food. Its greasy and bad for me. Marketing failed in its job and the owners simply must have their heads up the pope’s nose not to see the shift. KFC is PWT food and they are too broke to eat out.

  29. lordargent says:

    If I want grilled chicken, I will cook it myself.

    I don’t, however, own a pressure fryer.

  30. mcgyver210 says:

    All KFCs can go out of business for all I care since the KFC Coupon fiasco they offered but didn’t honor.

    Yes I hold a grudge.

  31. myrna_minkoff says:

    The KFC nearest me happens to be in a large, busy train station. They do not sell any fried chicken at all. All they have are the grilled products and sandwiches.

    I also have never actually seen a customer in there, though they must have some because the store has been open for about two years.

    I’ve never been able to understand the wisdom of opening a store that does not now, and never will, sell the one product you are known for and that you do well.

  32. Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

    So, the franchise owners are angry because selling healthier food is less profitable?

    A special place in Hell awaits them.

  33. prismatist says:

    When I want KFC, I want KFC. I don’t care if it messed with my guts and gives me the Colonel’s Revenge. Sometimes you just need that nasty greasy chicken. KFC means a big bucket of oily chicken that you take home and eat with gravy.

    • JMILLER says:

      The problem is, fewer and fewer people want that. Those that do, want it less often. Not a good business model that is sustainable. The chicken industry has grown over the last 10 years, KFC has lost market share consistently. McDonalds has switched to a healthy perception to some.

  34. Brent says:

    The people I know who eat at KFC eat their because they want fried chicken. They’re gloat about the fried part, for some reason. If they just want chicken, they can go to Chik-Fil-A.

  35. suburbancowboy says:

    R.I.P. Owen Hart

  36. chatnoir80 says:

    It’s like when I used to work for Kinko’s many years ago. When FedEx came along and bought us they wanted to rebrand us. They wanted not be known just for making copies. Eventually they got rid of the “Kinkos” name all together finally settling on FedEx Office. Corporate spent almost $1 billion on rebranding. But guess what…customers still called us Kinkos. I guess one of the brilliant marketing minds at HQ figured it out…at virtually every FedEx Office branch there is a sign plastered on the window that reads “Kinkos Inside”

  37. kethryvis says:

    i’m a graduate student in Applied Anthropology, and we’ve talked about running marketing surveys like this, and focus groups in particular. The thing with focus groups is that (esp. with guilt items like fried food) people will say what they think the interviewer wants to hear, instead of what they actually think. We’re too worried about being seen as “bad people.”

    So some companies are hiring applied anthropologists to do market research. We go out into the field and observe what people are actually doing, which is a better reflection of what they want over what they say they want.

    There’s a great example of an anthropologist doing work for a yogurt company. Focus group said they always sit their kids down and feed them a healthy breakfast. She went out and observed families from the focus group at breakfast time and saw this TOTALLY was not the case, and instead breakfast was either eaten in the car, or the kids were so busy getting ready/playing video games before leaving that they didn’t get breakfast or poured themselves sugar cereal when mom wasn’t looking. Then the company got the idea for a portable yogurt that can be eaten on the go. Yogurt-in-a-tube anyone?

    Maybe KFC needs an anthropologist. And coincidentally, i need a job! Win-Win!

  38. flipnut says:

    That grilled chicken is nasty, they leave the skin on. But it’s KFC should I really expect anything but nasty food, dirty stores, and poor service.

  39. CookiePuss says:

    I used to love KFC 10+ years ago. It was always juicy and I liked the herb/spice they used. I don’t know what happened but they really went downhill. After not going to one in years I stopped in one and everything was just nasty. It was dry and tasted like the chicken was sitting on a counter for a week.

    I tried another one when I moved to another state. Not only did the price throw me off (close to $50 for a bucket of chicken–no sides or drinks) but again it tasted dry and disgusting. Either the company changed recipe/policy or franchises are serving chicken waaaaaaaay past its prime.

  40. rdldr1 says:

    I’d gladly buy some grilled chicken from KFC if there was a franchise somewhere around me. Chicago is a Popeyes Chicken town (at least on the north side).

  41. Murphdog says:

    The grilled chicken is what made me visit a KFC for the first time in 37 years. Problem is it is now the reason I will never go back.

  42. Razor512 says:

    Most franchisees have problems with the main company. In most cases they complain about the adding of menu items that don’t have extremely high profit margins. Now they find other things to complain about. The people who own the franchisees may be greedy but their greed is nothng compared to the main company that allows them to sell the product. Most changes are targeted at increasing profits.

    Burger king added the buck double, franchisees complained but eventually shut up because they got more customers

    Profit margins don’t determine everything. For example the difference between a walmart and a small struggling store is the profit margins, walmart deals in high volume and lo profit margins (would you rather have 20 people buy a product at $5 profit each or would you rather have 1000 people buy the same item at $2 profit each)

    These companies got to where they are because they did something right for business. There is no magic trick to business.

    franchisees Don’t understand the stuff as well as people hired to do it.

  43. Bkhuna says:

    Maybe KFC wouldn’t have these problems if they discovered the one little secret to continued success:

    Make something edible that actually tastes good. The taste of their products has gone into the crapper over the last few years and all the gimmicks in the world can’t change that fact.

  44. fuceefacee says:

    KFC makes the only coleslaw I will eat.

  45. selmorestuff says:

    For three days they brought us all to Houston to “work with” efficiency experts on how to consolidate our operations.
    Anyway, they had the grease boards and we all “socratically” contributed our ideas.
    The last day, when they had “buy in” they handed out the ideas that we had decided and would implement.
    Damdest thing. The hand outs were dated on the bottom of the paper and the date was a month before the meeting.

  46. COBBCITY says:

    “Roger Eaton and his company don’t give a rat’s ass… “

    Lovely professional communication from a long time franchisee. Does this woman address her employees the same way?

  47. soj4life says:

    the business decisions of hq is the risk you have with being a franchisee. KFC is trying what they can to create buzz and bring in more business.

  48. CreekDog says:

    At my local KFC, I complained that they seemed to always be out of breasts and they told me that, “white meat was not popular here.”

    And I’m white. :D

  49. MarvinMar says:

    I knew something was up.
    The last few time I went there, I took my 4 yo twins.
    As I was ordering the buffet, the employee asked if the kids would like free milks…..Sure.
    Then as I tried to order popcorn chicken for them, he said that’s included in the buffet.
    I pointed out that it was for the kids….”Ok, here’s 2 plates of popcorn chicken for them.”
    He would NOT let me pay for theirs.

    The next 3 trips were the same…..with different employees even.
    I have not been back over the summer because the program the kids went to after dinner is on summer hold. As soon as it starts back up I will see if our KFC is still being so generous.