Chicken chains rule the roost following unexpected boost from affluent customers


Well-heeled Brits are joining the nation’s chicken shop obsession, according to new research.

Over the last year alone, the number of affluent Brits (those polled who say ‘I have money left at the end of the month for a few luxuries or to add to my savings’) visiting chicken outlets and restaurants has shot up from 40% in 2018 to 45% in 2019.

Meanwhile, those who have stable household finances are also now more likely to be enjoying the nation’s chicken shops and restaurants.

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Almost half (47%) of those describing their financial situation as ‘OK’ visited a chicken shop in 2019, compared to 41% a year earlier.

This comes as the chicken segment has seen some worse-off consumers exiting the market. Visits from Brits who say they are only just making ends meet has dropped from 45% in 2018 to 42% in 2019.

The growing popularity of chicken shops/outlets among Britain’s better-off consumers comes at a time when 67% of consumers agree that burger and chicken restaurants are offering more healthy options than a year ago, rising to 72% of affluent Brits.

Korean fried chicken is also proving particularly popular, with 71% of consumers saying they’re very/somewhat interested in this dish.

Following KFC’s well reported supply chain issue in 2018, the value of the chicken restaurant market is expected to surge by 5% in 2019, with sales of just over £2.3 billion.

Meanwhile, burger sales are faring well, too. The burger sector is expected to grow by a meaty 4% in 2019, bringing sales to more than £5.2 billion.

This year British restaurants are projected to serve up £7.5 billion worth of burgers and chicken.

Trish Caddy, senior foodservice analyst at Mintel, said: “An improvement in the animal welfare of chickens is helping to attract a more affluent clientele to chicken restaurants and outlets, with chicken meals typically costing more than other fast food choices.

“More ‘exotic’ offerings, such as Korean fried chicken, are also broadening the appeal of chicken shops to these wealthier diners. The guilt-free indulgence of healthier, free-range chicken has clearly met affluent consumers’ value expectations, even if better chicken costs more than a burger. Well-off Brits’ love for chicken also suits other food trends, such as eating more high-protein foods. This includes boneless chicken snacks such as bite-sized chicken fillets with dipping sauces, which are great for on-the-go consumption.”

Mintel suggests that one of the reasons fast food is picking up speed is because consumers are increasingly enjoying this food via delivery services such as Deliveroo or Uber Eats.

According to its research, almost four in ten (37%) consumers are ordering more food for home delivery from burger and chicken outlets/restaurants than they did a year ago. This compares to 25% who said the same in 2018.

Eating in a relaxed and familiar surrounding is also likely to be driving demand, as 70% of takeaway and home delivery users say they prefer the comfort of eating at home than dressing up to go out.

“Consumers are increasingly expecting products and services to be brought directly to them. The burger and chicken market is making a serious effort to push into home delivery, with a trend of brands partnering up with delivery aggregators such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats. Eventually, big players may take back control of their delivery functions by managing an in-house ecommerce system, making it more accessible for them to expand at a faster rate than some of their appointed third-party delivery partners,” Ms Caddy said.

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Andrew Seymour

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