Monday December 21, 2009
KFC's Kentucky Grilled Chicken, which debuted in the spring with a series of giveaways, was the most recalled launch of the year. However, it wasn't the only restaurant chain whose new products struck a chord with consumers. In fact, KFC, McDonald's, Quiznos and Taco Bell had five of the top 10 most recognized new products of the past year, according to the Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey, conducted by Boston-based Schneider Associates along with IRI and Sentient Decision Science.
This year's survey results ended a two-year trend in which technology products dominated the top 10. While 93 percent of the 1,125 respondents could not name one new product from a list of 50, those who did most readily recalled Kentucky Grilled Chicken, which Louisville, Ky.-based KFC launched April 27 with its "UNFry Day" giveaway, handing out 4 million servings of chicken.
Schneider Associates pointed out that KFC's product rated No. 1 by more than 10 percentage points over its nearest competitor, McDonald's McCafe line of premium coffee, with a recall score of 40.1 percent to 29.6 percent. Rounding out the top five product launches were the "Beatles: Rock Band" video game, 18.3 percent; the Snuggie blanket with sleeves, 17.7 percent; and the Blackberry Storm smart phone, 13.2 percent.
The public-relations firm said two national "UNFry Day" giveaways, the second of which occurred Oct. 26, and a robust advertising campaign contributed to KFC's product awareness, as did the fallout from a botched giveaway tied to the "Oprah Winfrey Show."
When Winfrey promoted a coupon for a free grilled-chicken meal on her show in May, customers' demand in the first two days of the two-week promotion far exceeded supply, leading KFC to issue rain checks for the meal and an additional soft drink.
Yet David Novak, chief executive of KFC parent Yum! Brands Inc., said the Kentucky Grilled Chicken launch was an "unqualified success," and he added that nearly 70 million people have tried the product this year.
"We continue to get rave reviews from customers, both existing and new or lapsed, about the product, and our job is to continue to drive trial," Maynard said.
At McDonald's, the two premium products launched this year that landed on the Most Memorable survey — the No. 2 McCafe specialty coffees and the No. 7 Angus Third Pounder line of burgers — spurred traffic not only from new customers but also from existing guests looking to try something different.
"[With McCafe] we saw a lot of incremental traffic," said Sofia Therios, the chain's marketing director for McCafe. "Some of that can be from customers who had gone elsewhere for coffee, but we also saw trade-up of our own customers. The drinks are good for an afternoon treat."
McCafe had been in test for well over a year, Therios said, and the drinks were deployed in a staggered manner unlike other product launches for McDonald's.
"Normally, we like to launch all at once, but the nature of the infrastructure needed for these products required a gradual deployment across the country," Therios said. "It was a period of a year and a half launching market by market. We came together this year as one country to market it all at once."
The Angus Third Pounder had been tested in a few key markets for about two years before its August nationwide launch, said Marta Fearon, director of marketing for the Angus product. The company took that time to learn from operations and consumer feedback and was not particularly worried that the premium product's launch coincided with the nation's worsening unemployment rate.
"I would say, at a time when consumers really appreciate value the most, McDonald's is able to bring a premium-burger experience with the value they've come to expect from McDonald's," Fearon said. "If nothing else, we hadn't had new-burger news in our lineup since 2002, so in that sense it created a lot of buzz. I'd also say it brought in incremental customers who'd gone elsewhere for big burgers."
MOST MEMORABLE PRODUCT LAUNCHES OF 2009*
- KFC'S Kentucky Grilled Chicken
- McDonald's McCafe coffee drinks
- "Beatles: Rock Band" video game
- Snuggie blanket with sleeves
- BlackBerry Storm smart phone
- Quiznos' Toasty Torpedo
- McDonald's Angus Third Pounder
- Taco Bell's Volcano Nachos
- T-Mobile's Google G-1 Phone
- Samsung's LED TV and the Off Clip-On (tie)
Read more: http://www.nrn.com/breakingNews.aspx?id=377024