The "last true chicken sandwich" is about to hit the market.
Yum Brands is quietly testing a concept called Super Chix using that claim beginning this month. The test, confined to a single store in Arlington, Texas, has a limited menu composed of a chicken sandwich, chicken tenders, fries, drinks and frozen custard, according to its website.
Two things in particular stand out about the concept: Nowhere does it reference that the concept is from the owner of KFC, and, second, its premium offering seems like a strike against Chick-fil-A.
The Super Chix website describes the chicken as "hand-breaded" and says it's free of MSG, high-fructose corn syrup and phosphates. Sandwich-topping choices include pickles, onions and jalapeno peppers and sauce options include a "signature" sauce, honey mustard, smokey honey pepper, and Sriracha sweet & sour.
Marketing will likely be bare bones. Super Chix already has Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Yum is mum on details, including whether it's tapped an agency for Super Chix. "This is an exploratory concept that may in the future be considered for international purposes," a spokeswoman said in a statement. "It is only in its infancy stage. We've explored other concepts over the years and they provide interesting learnings."
The move shows that Yum Brands is paying attention to consumer trends. Bernadette Noone, senior director-product management at Technomic, said a big move in food-service is the "premiumization" and customization of menu items. It also is on trend with smaller menu size. "Some restaurants have decreased the number of menu items in the past year and are planning to do so in 2014," said Ms. Noone, noting that "chains like In-N-Out Burger and Raising Cane's [another Chick-fil-A-like concept] have had a lot of success focusing on a small, core menu."
So why not clue in consumers that the concept comes from KFC, which already has substantial chicken cred? Dennis Lombardi, restaurant-industry analyst and exec VP at WD Partners, said it lets the company "start free and clear of all perceptions of all existing brands" -- good or bad.