The Great Debate: Fast-food Chicken

Today’s lunch debate spawned not one post, but a whole new category of posts! It was one of those ideas that started small and grew, and I must say, I’m pretty excited to get this little series going! As this is the first post in this category, I’ll preface it by saying that all of these posts are going to be openly biased. There’s no real way to be objective when you’re debating your personal favorites versus the lesser competitors in the world. Now that you’ve been warned, I bring you the first Great Debate: fast-food chicken. Now that I’m back in the South, I have a plethora of delicious chicken places that were sorely missed on the West Coast. What are they? I’m so glad you asked…


I would generally load up on Chick-Fil-A every time I visited, and now that I live here, it remains a staple for quick chicken. I always get the #5, 8-pack nuggets, Coke, and polynesian sauce. So tasty! They use high-quality ingredients that result in crispy, white-meat chicken nuggets and golden waffle fries. I also like their Chicken Ceasar wrap if I’m looking for a healthier option. What’s their marketing secret? The cows, of course! All of their marketing features less-than-educated cows urging customers to “Eat Mor Chikin”. It’s a cute campaign to preserve the welfare of the cows by suggesting that when hunger strikes, you should choose chicken. A shout out to The Richards Group on this creative campaign.

Raising Cane’s Chicken

If you don’t live in the Dallas metroplex, you’ve probably never heard of Raising Cane’s chicken. This franchise favorite takes on the history of it’s location, sporting photos, timelines, and decor that reflects the local flavor. I usually get the combo with 3 chicken fingers, fries, Texas toast, Coke, and the signature Cane’s sauce. What’s their marketing secret? One Love and Cane’s Sauce. “One Love” is their tagline, re-iterating the fact that their chicken fingers tastes so good because that’s all they do… chicken fingers. Literally, their menu consists of combos that offer 3 to 6 chicken fingers, fries, a drink, Texas toast, and Cane’s Sauce. If you need catering, you can order 25-100 chicken fingers. There’s no need to mess around with other products, so they’ve perfected their recipe and delivery of chicken fingers. The Cane’s Signature sauce is a tasty, slightly spicy sauce that comes with all their chicken finger offerings. It’s not quite like anything you’ve ever tasted, and you can’t get it anywhere else.

Cowboy Chicken

This is another Dallas favorite, which offers wood-fire rotisserie and grilled chicken. I always get the grilled chicken platter, with green beans and twice-baked mashed potatoes. The all-white chicken breast features a nice smoky flavor, fresh off the grill. And the twice-baked potatoes? AMAZING… and featured in several Dallas food magazines for their deliciousness! They put their rotisserie chicken in everything from salad to enchiladas, with equally flavorful side dish offerings. What’s their marketing secret? The wood-fire rotisserie display entices multiple senses. It’s a sight to behold, the smell fills the whole restaurant, and the radiating heat warms you on a cold winter day. When you walk in and see them pulling chickens out of the rotisserie to serve, you’re reassured that the chicken is fresh and flavorful. You can’t get that smoky flavor artificially, and seeing it first-hand makes your mouth water!

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House

This place has some of the best fried chicken in the South, and I would say that the rest of the country should take a page out of their recipe book! Babe’s serves fried chicken and chicken fried steak on family-style platters, with unlimited family-style bread, mashed potatoes, and corn. I noticed that they’ve recently added some additional dinner entrees, and increased the price from $10 to $11.99, and I’ve yet to try their new offerings. I will say that their old offerings are perfect for large group gatherings. Make sure you wear your loose-fitting pants… you’ll need them at this meal! What’s their marketing secret? A down-home, family-style restaurant. The entire atmosphere makes you feel like you’re gathering with good friends, eating some good food, and having a good time. This sense of family is furthered by the picnic-style tables, rustic decor, and BYOB policy.

Now that you all think I’m a complete glutton with no sense of health, I challenge you to make a visit to each of these restaurants, and see if you don’t become a glutton yourself. So who wins The Great Debate: Fast-food Chicken? Since I can’t pick just one, I’ll just say the South wins this debate!

Gillete is Genius!

I came across an article on Forbes about the latest men’s razor from Proctor and Gamble’s Gillete brand. The Gillete Guard goes back to the basics to offer the closest shave. Gillete has been a leader in the razor category for years, and they’re always looking to out-innovate themselves and their competition. So, why is THIS razor so genius?

They went straight to their target market. Gillete decided to move into the Indian market with the Guard, and they spent hours researching the habits, preferences, and conditions in which men in India shave. This is a different approach than they previously used, which involved surveying young Indian students at MIT. Going straight to the source helped them glean powerful information that was missed in their first attempt to take a razor to the Indian market. Their research showed that men in India tend to shave less, making the hair longer at each shave. Also, they don’t have as much warm water as their US counterparts, making it difficult to properly rinse the smaller blades in Gillete’s traditional razor. Finally, they usually hold a hand mirror instead of using a wall-mounted mirror, which significantly alters how they hold and manipulate the razor. These key insights changed the design of the razor, bringing it back to a single blade razor with a handle that was more suitable to their target market. Had they refused to go straight to the source for their information, the design flaws in the concept would have crippled the product in their target market in India.

KISS. We’ve all heard, “Keep It Simple Stupid”, but Gillete took this mantra to heart to achieve market success. Sometimes as marketers, we feel the need to make some grand alteration, or have some enlightening plan for success. But sometimes a good, solid, old-fashioned marketing plan is what is needed. When Gillete decided to “innovate”, they took their insights to meet their customers’ needs. And, in this case, their customers needed an older, simpler design. THAT is the real innovation: finding new ways to meet your customers’ needs, better, faster, and cheaper than the competition. Gillete’s simple, single blade razor sells cheaper and works better than their competition’s offering, thus making their KISS strategy successful.

Adjusted their distribution model. Proctor and Gamble realized that they might need change their distribution to make their product successful. They’ve decided to manufacture and distribute the product in India, versus manufacturing elsewhere and importing the product. Sometimes companies are unwilling to adjust their standard distribution model, and great products fail to go to market with success because of this. P & G realized the market success depends not only on the product itself, but maximizing the manufacturing and logistical opportunities associated with getting the product into consumers’ hands.

Proctor and Gamble showcased their genius with the Gillete Guard. The simple design, inexpensive cost, and new distribution model helped make the Guard a success. So, what innovations are you working on? What possibilities exist for your “innovation” to really be a simple solution?

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas…

To be fair, this statement was true about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving! Now, we’re just over-run with Christmas spirit in all the stores. I guess I’m just wondering: Whatever happened to Thanksgiving? I know retailers have been trending toward Christmas earlier and earlier, but this year seemed exceptionally early. I saw signs of the holidays in fast food restaurant displays in early November, and retail stores began the hype well before Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s the economy… this slump has caused the retailers to feel the need to remind customers to spend their dollars at Christmas time this year.

One new trend that I like is that stores extended their Black Friday deals prior to and beyond Black Friday. I saw several stores advertising items at 50%-70% on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and pointing out that customers didn’t need to fight the crowds on Black Friday. I also learned about Cyber Monday, which took the Black Friday deals online. I know a lot of shoppers were excited for the thrill of the hunt and the joy of purchasing a treasure at a discount from the comfort of their own homes, instead of freezing at 4 am in a line outside a brick and mortar store.

While I’m glad that Christmas has arrived once again, I would still like to hang onto autumn for a little longer next year. So please, retailers, can we keep the Fa la la to a mezzo piano until after Thanksgiving? Then I’m all for caroling at the top of your lungs, and I’ll probably be the loudest of all!