Despite a tumultuous year, Chick-fil-A has been chosen as the top chicken chain by a survey of 7,600 consumers. The survey was conducted by research firm Market Force Information.
The Atlanta-based chain was followed by Raising Cane's and Boston Market, respectively. El Pollo Loco was fourth, followed by Zaxby's, Popeyes, KFC, Wingstop and Church's Chicken.
With more than 1,600 locations in 39 states, Chick-fil-A has steadily captured market share from industry-leader KFC by focusing on a simple chicken sandwich. Regional restaurant chains such as Raising Cane's and Zaxby's, both of which specialize in chicken fingers, are also experiencing a surge in popularity in the rapidly growing poultry market and are both growing their footprint beyond their Southern base.
Market Force also analyzed the results geographically to see which sandwich chains are most popular in the four regions of the country – the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.
Chick-fil-A was tops in all regions except the South where it was edged out by Raising Cane's. Boston Market also had a strong showing with a top-three ranking in every region. Popeyes was third in the Northeast and fourth in the West. Also making an appearance in the West was El Pollo Loco, which is headquartered in Orange County, Calif.
Favorites by attributes
Market Force also asked consumers to rank the chicken chains based on attributes including food quality/taste, customer service, cleanliness, atmosphere and overall value. Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane's were the overwhelming favorites across the board. Chick-fil-A scored first place for its customer service, high value and cleanliness, while Raising Cane's snagged the top spots for food and atmosphere.
Zaxby's ranked third in every category and Wingstop ranked fourth across the board. El Pollo Loco and Church's chicken scored fairly high in the important food and value categories, while KFC ranked in ninth place in both of those categories.
"Whether it's wings, fingers or sandwiches, chicken is more popular than ever with the masses," said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. "With its quirky marketing campaign and consistent brand concept, Chick-fil-A has carved out a large stake in the expanding chicken segment, although regional competitors like Raising Cane's and Zaxby's are also seeing impressive growth."
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