Chick fil A positioning strategy has helped this fast food brand become a leader in the quick serve restaurant industry. The brand’s positioning has been a crucial aspect of its marketing strategy and has enabled it to gain market share over its competitors.
The positioning of Chick fil A defines where its product stands in the marketplace and the mind of the consumer compared to other food brands like Mc Donald’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Subway, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, KFC, Burger King, etc that offer similar products and services.
Hence, as one of its successful marketing strategies, Chick-fil-A designs its menu offering and brand image to occupy a distinctive place in the minds of its target market. This creates strong customer awareness and potential profits for the brand.
In this article, we will be discussing Chick fil A positioning strategy and how its business strategy has helped it stay ahead of the competition in the food industry.
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Positioning is one of the most powerful marketing concepts; it refers to the place a brand occupies in the mind of its target audience and how the brand is distinguished from other competitors in the same industry. This entails the unique value that a brand presents to its customers that establishes its brand identity.
A good brand positioning is the factor behind why a customer would prefer a brand over another. This involves creating a brand persona that connects in an authentic way to consumers. Once a brand has achieved a strong position, it can be really difficult to reposition it.
That is, to effectively position a brand and create a lasting brand memory, the brand has to build its product’s reputation and ranking among competitor’s products.
This can be achieved by creating a suitable image or emphasizing the distinguishing features of the brand or products. That is, in order to position products or brands, companies can create an image of an inexpensive or premium brand, or better still emphasize the distinguishing features of their brand.
For instance, in an attempt to position its products, Chick fil A emphasizes the distinguishing feature of it being a provider of high-quality, and fresh chicken-based fast food. In a market place filled with lots of products and brands that offer similar benefits, a good positioning is key because it makes a brand or product stand out from the rest.
Chick fil A has a good positioning and this is why it has the ability to charge a higher price and stave off competition from other fast food brands. Its good positioning has been a key factor in its marketing strategy, giving its offerings a USP (Unique selling proposition) and allowing the brand to navigate through economic downturns more easily.
What is Chick-fil-A’s positioning strategy?
Chick fil A positioning strategy is built on key factors such as convenience, price, competition, differentiation, brand association, and quality. The brand has carved a distinct identity and has successfully differentiated itself from other fast-food chains by building a reputation known for quality chicken-based menu offerings, strong values, and commitment to exceptional customer service.
The perception a customer has about a brand is influenced by both direct and indirect interactions with the brand. This is why factors such as quality, pricing, customer experience, brand influencers, and even online reviews can affect a consumer’s perception of a brand.
Some of the factors like the prices of a product, quality, and customer experience can be controlled by a brand. Chick fil A controls such factors by providing a healthier alternative to hamburger franchises (i.e serving only high-quality chicken entrees), charging its customers a slight premium over its competitors’ prices for similar offerings, and providing a customer-centric dining experience.
As a positioning strategy, Chick-fil-A’s core business practices are designed to maximize every customer interaction with the brand to occupy a distinctive place in the minds of its target audience. Business practices like customer appreciation events, attentive service, and even the simplest things like an employee responding “My pleasure” to a customer’s ‘thanks’ are all strategies that help to reinforce the brand positioning.
A good positioning appeals to both the head and the heart and this is why Chick-fil-A reinforces its brand positioning by tapping into its customers’ emotional responses. Its customer base generally perceives this fast food chain as authentic, genuine, and socially responsible; as a result, the brand has used its perceived corporate image and superior customer service to its advantage and therefore, capitalizes on emotional branding concepts in its product marketing strategies.
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Chick-fil-A’s positioning strategy
To position itself in the highly competitive fast-food industry and control how the market sees it, Chick-fil-A uses convenience, consumer-focused strategy, pricing, competition, differentiation, and quality as bases for its brand positioning strategies.
A convenience-based positioning strategy communicates and gives customers the perception that a brand can help to make their lives easier. Convenience sets brands apart and could be in terms of the brand location, ease of access, or general usability.
While competitors are expanding their product lines and sacrificing quality for speed, Chick-fil-A focuses on convenience. It uses a convenience-based positioning strategy in various ways to win the heart of its target audience; from the strategic positioning of its stores to the easy usability of the Chick-fil-A One app and implemented services that make customers’ lives easier.
Strategic positioning of stores
As a positioning strategy, Chick-fil-A establishes its restaurants in strategic locations. This fast food chain usually targets high-traffic areas such as busy intersections, college campuses, shopping centers, etc. This ensures accessibility, and convenience for customers as they can easily access the brand’s products without a hassle.
Customers knowing they can easily get good food options in a nearby Chick-fil-A store positions the brand in the minds of consumers as the convenient go-to choice for chicken lovers. Also, the strategic positioning of stores in high-traffic areas ensures brand visibility and positions Chick-fil-A in the minds of passersby subconsciously.
That is, a potential customer who frequently passes Chick-fil-A restaurant while running errands would passively have a lasting memory of the brand in his mind, and when he is craving any chicken-based fast food, this brand is likely to come to his mind. This is likely to influence his purchase decisions.
Usability of the Chick-fil-A One App
In this time and age where people crave convenience and everything is going digital, introducing the Chick-fil-A One app was an effective strategy to position the brand in the marketplace. Chick-fil-A introduced mobile payments and mobile ordering in 2014 to simplify the ordering process and enhance convenience for customers.
It introduced its mobile app (with a user-friendly interface and intuitive design), online ordering system, and rewards programs to create a seamless and engaging customer experience. Through the mobile app, customers can customize their meals, conveniently place orders, make payments, earn rewards, and carry out real-time order tracking.
This app’s ability to provide shopping convenience for customers reinforces the brand’s commitment to exceptional service. This, in turn, positions Chick fil A in the mind of its target audience and sells the perception that the brand is committed to exceptional service beyond its restaurant’s walls.
Also, the customer loyalty program on the app helps to give Chick fil A a distinctive place in the minds of customers. When customers know they are offered free menu items after a certain volume of food purchases, they tend to make repeat purchases on the app. By making these repeat online purchases, the mobile app is seamlessly integrated into their lives, thus effectively positioning Chick-fil-A.
Innovative features that make customers’ lives easier
In today’s fast-paced world, customers tend to value efficiency and convenience. Hence, to position itself effectively, Chick-fil-A has prioritized customer convenience by implementing innovative features that make customers’ lives easier such as the Mom valet service and the drive-thru.
The “Mom’s Valet” service, for instance, appeals to a lot of parents because it makes their lives a bit easier and stops them from standing in line with a group of children. With this service, parents can order the family’s meals at the drive-thru while keeping everyone safely contained in the car, and once they enter the restaurant, they get a table that has already been prepared for them.
Distinguishing services like the Mom Valet create a brand persona and connects customers to Chick fil A in an authentic way. By continuously providing exceptional service and convenience through innovative features, this chain has successfully boosted its ranking and positioned itself as the go-to option not only for chicken lovers but for a broader target audience like families too.
Consumer-focused positioning strategy
No matter the amount of hard work and money a brand invests in running ads and marketing campaigns, one bad customer service experience or negative word-of-mouth marketing from customers has the potential to ruin all the hard work.
To control and prevent such bad publicity, Chick-fil-A has integrated a consumer-focused strategy focusing on high-quality products, excellent customer service, and a family-friendly, values-centered environment.
Unique customer service experience
Offering a unique customer service experience is one of Chick fil A positioning. This fast food brand employs a generous approach to customers that makes them feel cared for and connected to the brand. The brand does an incredible job when it comes to customer service; it goes the extra mile to do what most fast-food restaurants don’t do.
Chick-fil-A is quick to respond to customer satisfaction stories and complaints and puts many resources into training and paying its employees well enough to ensure they deliver outstanding customer service.
Having its employees enjoy their jobs and value the opportunity to serve others results in positive interactions that leave a lasting impression on customers. This positive treatment of customers, whenever they interact with the brand, goes a long way to support the family-friendly, values-centered store image of Chick-fil-A.
Simple gestures like putting fresh flowers on customer’s tables, delivering food to tables with a smile, meeting customers in parking lots with umbrellas when it’s raining, as well as employees always answering a customer’s ‘Thank you’ with ‘My Pleasure’ instead of the common ‘You’re Welcome’, goes a long way to make a customer feel valued.
Such thoughtful services grow friendly brand associations with the Chik-Fil-A brand and create a lasting brand memory in the minds of customers.
The unique value of exceptional customer service that Chick-fil-A presents to its customers makes the experience at its restaurants different from that at other fast-food restaurants; one of the reasons why a customer would prefer it over other food brands.
Aside from Chick-fil-A’s delicious and quality food, its on-brand, unique customer service experience has helped to bring it up to the top tier of fast food restaurants. It has, over the years, successfully earned the top spot in the fast-food industry as the chain with the best customer satisfaction score.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI) annual restaurant report, 2022 was the 9th year in a row that Chick-fil-A has continued to set the standard with its exceptional customer service, polite employees, and cleanliness.
The brand’s Second-Mile Service approach to customer service has, therefore, helped to position it in a certain way to its audiences, making it the favorite food brand of many consumers. This consumer-focused approach has been incredibly effective as 10–15% of customers at Chick-fil-A would proudly call themselves ‘raving fans’ of the restaurant.
Exceptional in-store experience
Creating an exceptional in-store experience is another positioning strategy that Chick-fil-A uses. It makes its in-store design warm and inviting so that customers are always happy to return and spend time in the restaurant.
If customers don’t feel like they’re getting value from a brand and its products, they won’t patronize the brand. Perceived value gives customers a perception of a brand and this is why Chick-fil-A restaurants are meticulously designed to provide a comfortable atmosphere that reflects the brand values.
Every aspect of the in-store experience carefully creates a welcoming and enjoyable in-store experience for customers; from a pleasant dining atmosphere to a clean dining area and a friendly and efficient ordering process. This leaves a positive impression on customers and contributes to customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Sharing positive experiences from customers
One efficient way Chick-fil-A has been able to enhance its positioning in the marketplace is by sharing positive customer experiences. When it comes to brand positioning, a customer’s word of mouth is important. A lot of consumers would share their positive or negative experiences in a restaurant with their family and friends.
A customer’s word-of-mouth would depend on his/her perception of a brand. Unfortunately, a customer is more likely to share poor service experiences than the good ones which can solidify a bad reputation for the brand. This is why Chick-fil-A protects its reputation by controlling customer perception and influencing the narrative surrounding its customer experience.
By sharing stories of customers who have had positive interactions with the brand, Chick-fil-A can influence customers’ opinions about it and show its target audience how the brand has impacted the lives of its customers. Once customers can see how others have been impacted and satisfied with Chick-fil-A’s product and service, they are more likely to perceive the brand positively.
‘The Little Things’ campaign, for instance, is a prominent Chick-fil-A positioning strategy that highlights the little things that the fast food chain employees do to make customers’ lives a little better. This campaign influences how customers see the brand because it highlights the intimacy that the brand brings to its customer interactions.
It tells the story of little moments of joy between the team members in Chick fil A and customers.
This campaign shares so many heartwarming stories like the moment an employee held onto a forgotten change until the customer returned to the restaurant a month later, the moment an employee went out of her way to care for and comfort a Dad in the drive-thru who was getting emotional over taking his daughter to college, and the thoughtful moment an employee ran after a customer to give her the milkshake she forgot.
Stories of an employee translating the company’s app for a customer who spoke only Spanish and many more, highlight the value of what Chick-fil-A is bringing regularly. This sells a certain feeling and perception to customers. It makes customers see the brand’s value and dedication to serving its customers.
This campaign reinforces Chick fil A positioning by sending a strong message to its target audience and selling the narrative that the fast food chain takes pride in its customer service. This is a very effective positioning strategy as sharing customer’s positive interaction with the brand makes the brand appealing to any consumer who loves and desires an exceptional customer experience.
Chick-fil-A uses a differentiated value proposition as a positioning strategy. It leverages differentiation because it makes a brand stand out from the competition in the marketplace. Quality chicken-based food and superior customer experience are something that Chick fil A does better than its competitors which are valued by customers.
Chick-fil-A ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ advertising campaign emphasizes one of its essential points of difference and positions it in consumers’ minds. By differentiation, Chick fil A positioning strategy entails being perceived in the minds of its target customers as a provider of high-quality, fresh, and delicious chicken-based fast food that appeals to a variety of tastes and preferences.
Chick-fil-A differentiated itself by shifting its attention to health and convenience. For instance, for health purposes, it swapped its coleslaw, with salad options like Cobb salad, Market salad, and Spicy Southwest salad and even added grilled chicken to cater to health-conscious individuals. This makes Chick-fil-A stand out, positioning the brand as a go-to choice for healthy living.
Conclusively, the differentiation value proposition of Chick-fil-A which is its focus on chicken, commitment to quality ingredients, and dedication to customer convenience gives it a unique competitive advantage that its competitors have found difficult to match. By consistently delivering on these aspects, this fast food chain reinforces its branding and gains a larger market share than its competitors.
Competitor-based positioning is another notable Chick-fil-A positioning strategy. This could entail a brand highlighting an area its competitor is falling short of and offering an alternative to a shared audience. That is, indirectly pointing the finger at established competitors and using them as a reference point to differentiate a brand.
Positioning against competitors focuses on highlighting a key difference that a brand offers in an attempt to make the brand’s product seem unique and favorable compared to other options in the marketplace.
For instance, to enhance the positioning of Chick-fil-A, its marketing team, knowing that a majority of other fast-food chains market beef burgers introduced a bovine mascot that encourages customers to eat chicken.
Since many fast-food chains sell beef burgers, Chick-fil-A has already differentiated itself by selling chicken-based food. Hence, as a competitor-based positioning strategy, this fast food chain uses its competitor’s primary product (cow) as a mascot for its billboard, with write-ups that encourage its target audience to eat more chicken to save cows.
Over the years, Chick-fil-A has conveniently placed billboards on busy highways, water towers, and stadiums, using creative ways to encourage people to put down their burgers and eat chicken instead. For example, the phrase “Burgerz R 4 Losers I’M Just Sayin” on the billboard as seen below is a creative way of calling out some Chick-fil-A competitors like Burger King and McDonald’s without outrightly calling their names.
This billboard slogan indirectly discourages people from eating Chick-fil-A competitor’s primary product (beef), and positions Chick-fil-A in the mind of consumers as the better option. This, in turn, drives the sale of the brand’s chicken-based meals.
Pricing, as one of Chick-fil-A positioning strategies
Chick fil A positions itself as a higher-end fast-food option by using value-based pricing. Using price to influence customer perception is another type of positioning strategy. Price is the oldest type of positioning and has a direct relation to quality perception. There is a certain quality perception that comes with the psychology of pricing.
Subconsciously, consumers tend to associate a higher price with higher quality which makes them perceive a higher-priced product as superior, even if the actual differences in quality are minimal. In other words, pricing can influence the perceived value of a product, thus, making it a good positioning strategy.
Chick fil A, knowing that there is a relationship between price and quality and the consumer’s perception of the value of a product uses pricing as a positioning strategy. It uses a value-based pricing strategy whereby it places the prices of its products slightly higher than its competitors, which it justifies by the quality of its products.
A high price creates an image of exclusivity and superior quality which becomes a prestige statement for consumers. Chick fil A, having a slightly higher price than its competitors increases both perceived quality and perceived sacrifice (the sacrifice of paying more).
This also influences ranking wherein Chick-fil-A is likely to be positioned above other food brands in the minds of consumers. That is, when comparing the brand’s prices of food with other fast food, a consumer is likely to assume that Chick-fil-A’s food which is higher in price is higher in quality.
This value-based pricing strategy aligns with Chick fil A positioning strategy to occupy a distinct place in the minds of higher-income groups that can pay a slightly higher price for the brand’s quality food and exceptional service because they perceive it to be worth the value.
This pricing strategy used in marketing has been effective in Chick fil A positioning because customers perceive the brand’s quality food and exceptional service to be worth the value and are usually willing to pay a premium for it.
Therefore, by focusing on quality, Chick-fil-A has successfully built a loyal customer base willing to pay more for a superior dining experience. This has enabled the brand to make an annual revenue of more than 10 Billion USD yearly.
Brand association based on Chick-fil-A’s strong values and principles
Positive brand associations based on Chick-fil-A’s strong values and principles have helped the brand’s positioning. Brand association can be negative or positive; it is a mental connection that a customer makes between a brand and an experience, image, emotion, personality, or interest. This association can strongly influence purchase decisions.
Due to Chick-fil-A’s strong values and principles, it gets positive brand associations that place it in the minds of consumers and distinguish it from competitors. Its strong values and corporate culture are some of the unique values that it presents to its customers which establishes its brand identity.
The majority of this brand’s values are influenced by the Christian religious beliefs of the founder, Truett Cathy. By having strong values and principles, Chick-fil-A has created a brand positioning that its customers can identify with. Since its inception, this brand has relied on its Christian beliefs to guide its employee-customer relations and business strategy.
It has also designed community-based initiatives and philanthropic offerings that consistently promoted its corporate image as a friendlier, healthier, and more socially responsible choice. By doing so, Chick-fil-A has been able to bring about a positive emotional response among its consumers.
Chick-fil-A positioning based on Christian belief
Chick-fil-A positioning is deeply rooted in its strong Christian values and culture. This fast food chain is known for its commitment to operating on Christian principles. It’s corporate purpose is
“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”Chick Fil A
This Chick fil A positioning statement reflects how the brand operates and treats its customers which has positioned the brand in a way that is not only appealing to Christians but to people of other faiths.
Business practices like closing its stores on Sundays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to ensure its employees spend time with family and honor their religious beliefs and promoting fish sandwiches during the Western Christian liturgical season of Lent due to the Christian tradition of abstinence from meat make Chick-fil-A unique among its competitors.
The brand’s emphasis on such core Christian values resonates with customers who appreciate the brand’s dedication to its principles and wins the hearts of many Christians who interact with the brand. This builds strong associations and contributes to the brand’s positive image.
Chick fil A positioning based on community involvement and philanthropic efforts
As a positioning strategy, Chick-fil-A connects with its customers on the issues they care about. By participating in community activities, fighting social and environmental issues, and making philanthropic efforts, it sells a perception to the target audience.
Community involvement has been an integral part of Chick fil A positioning strategy. The brand sponsors charitable initiatives, participates actively in local events, fights hunger, and supports youth development programs and education.
For the year 2022, as part of its commitment to giving back to the communities, Chick fil A donated 18 million meals to Feeding America through the Chick-fil-A Shared Table® program, awarded about $22 million in True Inspiration Awards®and about 132,000 students cultivated leadership skills through the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy grants.
Such initiatives and philanthropic efforts show that this brand is highly committed to its community and has strong principles and values. This helps to reinforce Chick fil A positioning and branding. This has been very effective, especially in today’s era where consumers want brands to take a stance. A large number of consumers want to buy from socially responsible companies, and brands that prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion in their communities.
In this regard, Chick fil A commitment to engaging and giving back to communities wins the hearts of many consumers, strengthens the customer connection with the brand, and fosters a sense of goodwill among customers.
Also, publicity moves like Chick Fil A setting up “Missing Man Tables” at its restaurants across the country on Memorial Day to honor soldiers who died while serving in the Armed Forces creates brand awareness and passes a strong message to its target audience.
As a big supporter of the military, one table is left empty at Chick fil A’s restaurants on Memorial Day, and a framed statement that reads “This table is reserved to honor our missing comrades in arms,” is placed on the table. Such symbolic gestures position Chick fil A in the hearts of many customers and make them emotionally attached to the brand. This, in turn, results in increased patronage and a larger loyal customer base.
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Chick-fil-a business strategy
Chick fil A business strategy plays a major role in its positioning because if the business is not well structured or doesn’t operate well, it would not occupy a distinctive place in the market. Hence, the success of this brand lies in its business strategy.
Chick-fil-A uses a business model that is centered on providing a small-sized menu and superb customer service. The majority of fast-food chain uses a wide range of food menus as a strategy to attract a larger customer base. Whereas, Chick-fil-A remains laser-focused on selling chicken-based food which makes it stand out from the competition.
Chick fil A business strategy focuses on creating the best chicken sandwich in the country and it has stuck by it for years. Since its inception in 1967, this brand has been consistently faithful to its niche. That is, right from its inception, Chick-fil-A decided not to be all things to all people but chose to be one thing; a fast, courteous, healthy-leaning chicken sandwich provider.
Due to this, chicken sandwiches became synonymous with this brand which boosted Chick fil A positioning in the marketplace. With no other fast-food chain being able to compete strongly in this niche, Chick-fil-A was able to triple its annual sales, from $2.64 billion to $10.18 billion between 2007 to 2018, equating to a 32.9% market share. Thus, making it a market leader in the fast food industry.
Having a unique franchise agreement is also a prominent Chick-Fil-A business strategy. This fast food brand focuses on providing quality and exceptional customer service and this is why it ensures with its employee recruitment and franchise practices, it creates value for its customers. It runs a unique business model that ensures the brand tightly controls its high standards in all its stores.
Chick fil A is one of the most selective fast food chains in the industry because it accepts just 0.4% of people who apply to open its restaurants. Its operators pass a very extensive interview process and training regimen to become franchisees. This chain retains ownership of all its restaurants, while selected franchisees with an initial investment of $10,000 undergo series of intense training that qualifies them to operate the business.
Also, these selected franchisees are usually restricted to only opening a single restaurant, which is a rarity in the fast food industry where many franchisees open dozens of restaurants. Such restriction and standard helps to checkmate and ensure that Chick fil A’s restaurants across the US maintain the same level of quality and customer service. This business strategy has led to sustained success and high customer satisfaction, thus helping to reinforce Chick fil A positioning.
Conclusively, from studying how Chick fil A operates and runs its business, it is observed that the brand doesn’t hop on trends expecting them to be fast tracks to growth. Instead, the brand stands by the values it started with over five decades ago which include a streamlined menu, a high level of customer service, quality products, and strong Christian principles. This is one secret to Chick-fil-A a successful business
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What makes Chick-fil-a unique among its competitors?
One unique thing about Chick-fil-A is that it has always stayed true to its Heartland values such as faith, family, community, and patriotism, which has earned it a loyal customer base. Since its inception, this brand understood it had to think and act differently, so it solidified its reputation as an openly faith-rooted, healthier chicken-based fast food brand, thus making it unique among its competitors.
Chick-fil-A is unique among its competitors for focusing on chicken-based menu offerings and building its reputation on serving high-quality food made from fresh ingredients. This fast-food chain takes pride in its chicken, which it sources from reputable suppliers and prepares properly to ensure a tender and flavorful experience.
Its menu offerings feature a distinct variety of chicken-based items, such as the signature Chick-fil-A Sandwich, wraps, nuggets, and salads, which are all made with meticulous attention to detail and taste.
Aside from the unique food offering, another thing that makes Chick-fil-a unique among its competitors is its commitment to exceptional customer service. The brand is very particular and devoted to hiring and training friendly and attentive team members who are more than willing to go above and beyond to create a welcoming and positive dining experience for customers.
The staff’s efficiency, courteousness, and commitment to satisfying customers’ needs have become closely associated with the Chick-fil-A brand. These unique values that the brand offers made it the favorite fast food brand for the year, 2023, based on American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) benchmarking; this is the 10th year in a row that Chick-fil-A ranks No 1.
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In conclusion, Chick-fil-A positioning and competitive strategy can be attributed to its unwavering commitment to a distinctive chicken-based menu, exceptional quality food, outstanding customer service, strong values, and community involvement.
With these key elements, Chick-fil-A has been able to build a brand that stands apart in the hearts of consumers and the competitive fast-food industry. The brand’s strong commitment to core values is what inspires the type of loyalty that generates the kind of sales that rivals other fast food brands like McDonald’s and Burger King. It has cultivated a loyal customer base and has continued to impress and delight customers across the United States.
Chick-fil-A’s increased profit, continued expansion, and loyal customer base, therefore, shows that its brand positioning is a competitive advantage that leads to high repeat purchases and ultimately to high profitability.
Obotu has 2+years of professional experience in the business and finance sector. Her expertise lies in marketing, economics, finance, biology, and literature. She enjoys writing in these fields to educate and share her wealth of knowledge and experience.