A KFC Colonel Sanders cutout, the man who started it all. (KFC Photo/Kate Taylor)
Something was seriously wrong with KFC. The prices of their food had gone way up and the quality of their food had gone way down in my humble opinion.
I guess I wasn’t the only one who noticed.
I don’t know when they figured it out, but having felt the hurt in their cash flow from losing the trust of their customer base, the chicken chain had to make some changes. As of today, they are debuting a new program to win Americans back.
“Customers were saying, ‘Your food doesn’t taste the same,'” Jason Marker, KFC’s US president, said Monday in a press event. “We’re not making the food the same way the Colonel had, and we’re not making food in what he described as ‘the hard way.’ Today marks the end of that.”
Now undergoing a process it is calling “Re-Colonelization” — the once popular chicken chain has renewed a public commitment to quality involving employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee. Effective immediately, if customers aren’t satisfied with their KFC order, the restaurant will remake whatever part of their meal they weren’t happy with.
Along with spending significant resources in a nationwide “chicken mastery certification” program attended by more than 97% of restaurant general managers, the chain has also provided more than 100,000 hours of retraining to more than 20,000 employees. But they aren’t stopping there.
They want the experience at KFC to be completely transformed. They’ve been trying to turn their business around by updating its restaurant design, with plans to remodel 3,000 locations in the next three years.
Another piece of the puzzle is to showcase a brand that is in touch with it culinary roots. Launched in 2015, its Colonel-centric marketing campaign highlights new menu items, such as the Nashville hot chicken, which emphasizes the importance of creativity and well-crafted recipes.
KFC worker serving their newest menu item, Nashville hot chicken. (KFC Photo)
KFC’s domestic business has struggled in recent years, with Marker comparing the brand to a football team “that was once great.” As rivals such as Chick-fil-A have exploded in the US, KFC hasn’t been able to keep up with modern, fast-casual-influenced customer demands. According to KFC chief marketing officer Kevin Hochman, only two in five millennials have even visited the chain.
“I think it’s fair to say that we haven’t been living up to the standards or the philosophy of Colonel Sanders himself,” Marker said.
The Re-Colonelization — and the repositioning of the Colonel as a figure of authenticity at the center of the brand — attempts to re-calibrate KFC by returning to its roots. In an era when consumers are craving authenticity, the Re-Colonelization could be just what the brand needs to jump-start its business in the US.
KFC is betting that if they serve higher quality food, provide a better customer experience, and showcase the unique recipes like they once did, that the customer base will return and they will be able to create a relationship with new customers as well. I don’t know about you, but me being a chicken lover, I’m looking forward to seeing how they are able to adapt and execute on trying to become even better than they once were.
I’ll give them this at least, they’ve recognized their mistakes and are trying to correct them. Way to go KFC, I’m rooting for you.
Watch their chicken pledge commercial below: