It wasn’t too long ago that there were boycotts and threats of shutting down the popular chicken chain Chick Fil A over the conservative views of its CEO. Yet, today Chick Fil A has captured the largest share of the fast-food chicken market, even beating out KFC. Analysts say that it is because of the taste and quality of the food and strategic business practices. But could there be more to it? Could their success be for the same reason that Duck Dynasty has become so wildly popular with the American public?
In 1999, KFC was the top rooster in the barnyard, with a whopping 40 percent of the market share, according to Business Insider. Chick Fil A was Chicken Little, with a mere 9 percent. Yet, in a new report released by Janney Capital Markets on July 15, Mark Kalinowski warns Wall Street that they had better pay attention to fast-growing Chick Fil A, cautioning that the chain even poses “a growing long-term threat” to fast food giant McDonald’s.
This phenomenal growth has resulted in a reversal of roles for KFC and Chick Fil A. KFC only claims 22 percent of the fast-food fowl market, while Chick Fil A has captured the top spot, with 26 percent. The remarkable thing is that this happened while KFC boasts about 4,500 stores, which grossed $4.2 billion in 2013, while Chick Fil A grossed over $5 billion, with just 1,775 restaurants, less than half as many as the former top chicken. The market share for KFC has declined in direct inverse relationship to Chick Fil A’s growth.
Philly.com advises McDonald’s to “Fear the Bird,” in its headline. Though McDonald’s is still the industry giant with $36 billion in sales last year, Chick Fil A is rapidly climbing the ranks. Sales for the Atlanta-based company have tripled in the last 14 years.
It was two years ago this summer that Chick Fil A’s CEO Dan Cathy was at the center of a furious culture war over same sex versus traditional marriage, by making comments that he supports the “biblical definition of the family unit.” Cathy’s statement quickly plunged the Chick Fil A corporation into the heart of a passionate, vitriolic debate. The company was boycotted by the LGBT community as well as same-sex marriage supporters.
Shortly after the boycott was instituted, former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee joined the fray. The Inquisitr reported that Huckabee called for a nationwide Chick Fil A Appreciation Day on August 1, 2012. That day saw record sales, with people lined up for hours for their chicken sandwich and waffle fries.
Bloomberg posted an article that was a “reminder that boycotts often backfire.” And backfire it did. Chick Fil A’s sales have steadily increased, despite dire predictions that the old-fashioned comments would doom the chicken chain.
It would have been hard for patrons of Chick Fil A to miss the fact over the years that the restaurant was owned by people with traditional values. None of the chain’s 1,775 locations have ever opened on Sundays, and the reason is clearly posted on every Chick Fil A door – they are closed to allow their employees the opportunity to worship with their families if they wish.
Nonetheless, analysts and experts are increasingly befuddled at the success of businesses, such as Chick Fil A, as well as films, whose leadership unashamedly endorse conservative messages. Movies with traditional values-based messages, such as Grace Unplugged, Moms’ Night Out, or Heaven Is For Real are “surprise hits” that Hollywood critics cannot seem to wrap their brains around.
Could the key to their success be the Duck Dynasty effect – that commitment to stand for traditional values, like prayer or the traditional family, no matter what society pressures them to do? It is those values that, still, the majority of Americans support, or at least they support the right of people to hold those values. In a time when society at large seems to be tolerant of everything except traditional values, those who espouse conservative views are often demonized by the politically correct. Yet, they are an inspiration to millions to have the courage to stand in the face of opposition.
Whether one agrees with the perspective or not, it is the intolerance of the perspective that causes many who have remained out of the fracas to stand up and say, “enough.” It was not so much that everyone agreed with Phil Robertson or Dan Cathy; it was that many people have grown weary of the intolerance of the crowd that preaches “tolerance,” where only the views that agree with theirs are acceptable. And they have turned out in droves to support Chick Fil A and Duck Dynasty, even combining the two on Chick Phil A Day on February 21.
Much of the popularity of Duck Dynasty has been attributed to the Robertson’s determination to stand up for their beliefs, in a world where those beliefs are under near-constant assault. Could it be that the incredible success of Chick Fil A is related to the determination of their leadership to stand up for conservative values, even if it means being politically incorrect?