KFC has continued its strategy to introduce snack products through integrated marketing campaigns with the launch of Dip’ems, a repackaging of its Extra Crispytenders with a sauce lineup featuring three new varieties.
The tenders will be sold with the choice of one of KFC’s three signature dipping sauces — Honey BBQ, Honey Mustard or Creamy Ranch — or one of three new flavors, including Creamy Buffalo, Orange Ginger or Bacon Ranch. Dip’ems will be sold in buckets of $20 with all six sauces or in a combo of three tenders, a choice of two sauces, a side item, a biscuit and a medium drink for $5.
“We know, and our customers have confirmed, that dipping is irresistible,” chief marketing officer Jason Marker said in a statement. “Once you start dipping, you just can’t stop. Our solution: Dip’ems, an irresistible combination of Extra Crispy tenders and six sauces that will satisfy any appetite.”
As it did in July for Original Recipe Bites and in September for Chicken Littles, KFC is going after more snack sales with its new item and will introduce Dip’ems through new TV commercials and a branded-entertainment campaign. In one part of the campaign, humor columnist Joel Stein, the author of “Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity,” endorsed Dip’ems in a KFC press release by praising a customer’s ability to “double dip” in the item’s sauce containers as much as he or she wants.
KFC also partnered with Break Media to run a series of short webisodes on Break.com around “Dipping Rules.” Starring comedian Jay Mohr, each short video explains the dos and don’ts of “dude food etiquette,” including when people may double dip with Dip’ems or whether the “five-second rule” applies to the six signature sauces. People can submit their own dipping rules to be entered into a sweepstakes for a paid vacation to Las Vegas, a free Xbox 360 or KFC gift cards.
Previously, KFC had created the “Growing Up and Getting Out” and “A Little Workplace Humor” branded-entertainment series to promote Original Recipe Bites and Chicken Littles, respectively.
KFC will aim to differentiate Dip’ems from the ubiquitous chicken tender offerings at other chicken and quick-service chains by talking up the dipping sauce flavor, which should help the new item stand out, said Tim Nelson, president of Chicago-based advertising agency Tris3ct.
“The emphasis with Dip’ems is not on the chicken, but on the sauce,” Nelson said. “That’s something that can put the lens on flavor, which is more of a driver of traffic.”
He speculated that Dip’ems would need to cut into market share of competing tender products like Popeyes Handcrafted Tenders, which are also offered with new signature sauces, without taking away too many transactions from other parts of its own menu. Introducing Dip’ems may have been a defensive play, if Original Recipe Bites had been cannibalizing sales of Extra Crispy tenders, which had been around long before the bites’ debut this summer, Nelson added.
“Strips have been around on KFC’s menu a while, so maybe the Original Recipe Bites were killing the strips business,” Nelson said. “My guess is that strips are more profitable or have a higher ticket, as well, so it would make sense to emphasize these sauces as a differentiator and create energy around the product.”
The steady introduction of new snack-sized items shows a thoughtful pursuit of the snack daypart, he added, rather than a scattershot approach to product development. Though KFC has not launched the kind of step-change products sibling brands Taco Bell and Pizza Hut have done recently with their respective Doritos Locos Tacos and Big Dinner Box, it still is moving toward long-term growth, Nelson said.
“Does KFC need home runs, or do they need to demonstrate relevance in new dayparts?” Nelson said. “The next frontier for a place like KFC is to become a snack destination. The sales and traffic growth in QSR is going to come around snacking. You also can sell these Dip’ems in the drive-thru, which where you can sell more drinks, where the best margins come in.”
In its most recent third quarter, KFC drove a 4-percent increase in same-store sales at its more than 4,700 restaurants in the United States. The brand is a division of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands Inc., which operates or franchises more than 38,000 locations of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut in more than 115 countries.