Can the Double Down save KFC?

The fast-food chain is losing sales and market share. It's hoping its new product will change that.

By Kim Peterson Apr 19, 2010 2:56PM
KFC's 'Double Down' sandwich. Credit: (© Dan Kremer/KFC)The Double Down: Call it a marketing gimmick or a taste sensation. KFC is hoping to call it a money maker.

The fast-food chain, owned by Yum Brands (YUM), has been relentlessly promoting the breadless sandwich featuring bacon and cheese between two chicken filets. At 540 calories (for the original recipe version), the Double Down has received quite a bit of attention.

Taste-testers were less than thrilled. "My tongue hurts. Salt burn," wrote one newspaper reporter after trying it. But a New Jersey man ate almost five in 30 minutes.

Can the Double Down turn KFC around? Sales have been limp for years. Despite numerous attempts to revive business, the chain is slowly getting tenderized by Chick-fil-A, reports AdAge.com. Post continues after video:
KFC's market share has dropped six points since 2005 to around 30%, AdAge reports. The smaller Chick-fil-A has seen business grow to the point where it has about a 20% share. And Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays.

How has Chick-fil-A succeeded? AdAge credits the chain's high-quality sandwiches and service, as well as healthier menu options.

KFC, on the other hand, has . . . . Well, what does it have, exactly? Fried Chicken? The company wiped "fried chicken" from its name years ago, hoping that an acronym would somehow make the food seem healthier. But then it kinda brought the name back. Confusing.
How about silly marketing stunts? KFC has plenty of those. It relocated the recipe to an undisclosed location with the help of armed guards, and opened an online safe for Internet users to deposit their own secrets.

KFC also managed to sneak a Colonel Sanders lookalike into the U.N., and lobbied to have the fictional "Grilled Nation" accepted into the body.

It's debatable whether any of this has actually sold additional pieces of chicken. Chick-fil-A, Popeye's, Church's and Zaxby's all gained in sales and market share last year while KFC went into the negative in both categories.

Could the Double Down reverse KFC's momentum? We'll see as the sales numbers start to come in later this year.

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