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In August 2019, Popeyes released its first-ever chicken sandwich across all 2,413 locations. Customers were rushing to get their hands on it, while people all over Twitter began pitting Popeyes sandwich against the original Chick-fil-A sandwich. Both of them are priced similar: Popeyes sandwiches cost $3.99, while Chick-fil-A prices their sandwiches at $4.29.
Wendy’s later waded into the social media battle boasting their own chicken sandwich and eventually #ChickenSandwichWars was trending on Twitter. In Dec 2019, McDonald’s announced they were testing a southern style sandwich in two locations.
We took a look at where Popeyes and Chick-fil-A sell their chicken sandwiches, as well as where to find Wendy’s and McDonald’s Chicken Sandwiches.
Insights in Brief:
- Popeyes has 2,413 restaurants and is available in 46 states.
- Chick-fil-A has 2,523 restaurants and is available in 47 states.
- Popeyes and Chick-fil-A have the most restaurants in Texas.
- Wendy’s has 5,823 chains and McDonald’s has 13, 826 chains and are available in all 50 states.
Our Twitter Advanced Search Scraper allows you to analyze #ChickenSandwichWars based on people, place and date.
Number of Chicken Sandwich Locations by each chain
Even though Popeyes has a smaller count of 2.4K chains, because of its hit sandwich, Popeyes sales surged in the third quarter surpassing larger chains such as Burger King.
The fast-growing Chick-fil-A has the highest sales per store than any other fast-food chain, which is impressive as it only operates in 2.5K restaurants and is closed on Sundays.
Popeyes and Chick-fil-A: Most Locations per state
Chick-fil-A dominates in 27 of the 46 states that have both Chick-fil-A and Popeyes locations. Popeyes reigns on the west coast while Chick-fil-A has more chains in the southern states.
Popeyes has a total of 2,413 locations in 46 states across the US. The top 3 states with most Popeyes restaurants are Texas (352), California (213), and Florida (169).
Besides the top 3 states, Popeyes has a large number of restaurants in Louisiana, Illinois, and Georgia.
Where to find Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich
There are 2,523 Chick-fil-A locations across 47 states, located predominantly in the southeastern regions. The top 3 states with the most number of Chick-fil-A restaurants are Texas (412), Georgia (244), and Florida (205).
Chick-fil-A has higher individual sales per store and is more productive compared to bigger competitors like McDonald’s and KFC. While customer service and food quality help explain Chick-fil-A’s success, the main factor is authenticity.
Top States with Popeyes and Chick-fil-A Locations
The chart below shows states with the most number of Chick-fil-A and Popeyes chicken sandwich locations
Chick-fil-A and Popeyes have the highest number of restaurants in Texas. Of the 46 states that have both Chick-fil-A and Popeyes restaurants, Chick-fil-A dominates in 24 states. Chick-fil-A is focusing on the southeastern regions. On the other hand, Popeyes has a higher concentration in densely populated states such as California, New York, and Illinois.
California has 213 Popeyes restaurants but only 122 Chick-fil-A restaurants. Similarly in New York, the number of Popeyes (150) restaurants is 6 times higher than the number of Chick-fil-A (24) restaurants.
Other contenders in the Chicken Sandwich Wars
With the battle heating up between Popeyes and Chik-fil-A, Wendys and McDonald’s have also joined in on the competition. While Wendy’s had been selling chicken sandwiches earlier, it hasn’t faced such fierce competition in this market before.
McDonald’s, which operates one of the largest burger chains in the US, is also expected to launch its new chicken sandwich nationwide later next year.
Where to find Wendy’s Chicken Sandwich
There are 5,832 Wendy’s locations in the US. The top three states with the most number of Wendy’s restaurants are Florida (517), Texas (411), and Ohio (410).
McDonald’s has 13,826 locations in the US. The top 3 states with the most number of McDonald’s restaurants are California (1,276), Texas (1,190) and Florida (900).
After customer and franchise demand in premium chicken sandwiches, McDonald’s had its late entry with its new Crispy Chicken Sandwich. It is being tested in Houston, Texas (135 chains) and Knoxville, Tennesee (24 chains) at a price of $3.49. The food giant reported that sales took a hit in October due to the social media frenzy around chicken sandwich wars.
Influence of Social Media
The nationwide game of chicken sandwich thrones began because of two tweets between rival fast-food chains. Popeyes could not have asked for a better product release and they have social media to thank for their wild success. Along with the tight competition and news publicity, Popeyes got a $65 million media valuation coverage before, during and after their chicken sandwich sold out. With all the hype executives realized shortages were a national problem with employees struggling to keep up with demand in stores.
The chicken sandwich war is a clear example of how user-generated-content is inherently more viral than any single advertising or marketing message published by a brand. The question for these brands is whether they can keep this buzz going.
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