The US market size for take-out fried chicken is set to hit almost $10 billion by 2030, and the maddened race for a slice of the pie is on.
Currently, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. has the third-largest market share, buoyed in some part by the launch of its fried chicken sandwich. Read on to discover Popeyes’ most significant competitors!
Who Are Popeyes’ Largest Competitors In 2023?
Popeyes’ market share in the fried chicken segment has been steadily increasing. Still, it faces stiff competition from Chick-Fil-A, KFC, Zaxby’s, Wingstop, Bojangles, El Pollo Loco, Church’s Kitchen, Raising Canes, Burger King, Long John Silver, and McDonald’s. All these execute various strategies to compete though limited variation is possible in this segment in 2023.
Stay on to learn who Popeyes’ biggest competitors are in the fried chicken fast food segment, and what strategies are used to increase market share!
Chick-Fil-A is a colossus in the fried chicken segment by far.
Founded in the 1960s by Truett Cathy, the fast-food restaurant has since established itself as the home of delicious chicken in the nation.
Chick-Fil-A sells $11 billion worth of chicken a year, twice as much as the next highest seller.
Each of its locations sells more than $4 million a year, as much as the next three largest restaurants.
This success is built on several strategies that give the restaurant a hard-to-assail competitive advantage.
Chick-Fil-A puts a lot of care into producing delicious chicken that customers are willing to wait in line for.
Couple with this is the company’s unmatched customer service, which is a boon in these times when customers will not tolerate tardy service.
2. Kentucky Fried Chicken
KFC is the largest fried chicken restaurant globally and in the US by the sheer number of locations. Its over 4000 restaurants are spread across the nation.
Colonel Harland Sanders founded the restaurant in the 1950s based on a secret fried chicken recipe that the company still loves to make much of.
The recipe, coupled with the innovative mass fried chicken production methods, helped it bring down the food’s production costs, translating into increased sales.
The significant location footprints also help it compete effectively with Popeyes.
Zaxby’s is a fast-casual restaurant with deep roots and presence in the South of the United States. It specializes in chicken nuggets, fingers, and wings, and has grown to 900 locations.
This restaurant’s market share yields over $1.8 billion per year and about $2 million per location.
Zaxby’s leverages its delicious Southern-style chicken and a strong brand with local emphasis to help it stay in the race for market share.
However, the problem is that its market share is low compared to Popeyes, which no doubt influences its ability to hold on to or enlarge the share.
Wingstop was established in 1994 and started offering franchises in 1997. So far, it has about 1400 locations in the US that rake in approximately $1.4 billion a year.
The restaurant targets Millenials with chicken wings, boneless wings, and chicken tenders in 11 different flavors.
The flavors are driven by proprietary sauces and seasonings, giving this player a competitive advantage.
Millennials form a diverse and growing customer base that appreciates choice.
Wingstop’s 11 flavors, its sauces, and hand-cut fries help it lock in this demographic ahead of competitors like Popeyes.
5. Raising Cane’s
Raising Cane’s market share is way behind Popeyes, but it is growing as it has picked its strategy with some thought.
The restaurant that started only in 1996 has almost 500 locations, making about $1.4 billion a year. That is nearly $3.6 million a unit. This is second only to Chick-Fil-A.
Raising Cane’s has set its sight on the demographic with the most prolific growth-Gen Y’s and Gen Zs, and it has its hand on their pulse.
The restaurant takes extra care to put out only top-notch chicken fingers on the market. Also, it focuses on building that sort of camaraderie its target audience lives for.
Raising Cane’s is known for active community involvement and hip crew culture to lock in the target market.
Founded in 1977 in Charlotte, Bojangles has grown to over 750 locations in the US, mainly restricted to the Southern part of the country.
It makes about $1.3 billion in sales a year, about $1.3 million a restaurant.
Bojangles has decided to make a play for a larger market share by pitching in on the fried chicken sandwich wars, perhaps encouraged by the success of Popeyes’ opening shot.
It is a war in which differentiation is difficult, and its gambit is not radically different, or even better than what Popeyes and Chick-Fil-A offer.
7. El Pollo Loco
El Pollo Loco has over 480 locations in the US, with a heavier presence in the regions of California, Texas, and Nevada.
Its specialty is Mexican chicken entrees, mostly citrus-flavored and fire-grilled.
Its market share amounts to over $900 million, with each location yielding $1.9 million a year.
El Pollo Loco serves all customers but has chosen to corner the Hispanic market.
Its branding has evolved to reflect the nostalgia of family. About 50% of the customers are Hispanic, and 30% of the meals are sold to families.
This strategy no doubt cuts into Popeyes’ diversified target market.
8. Church’s Chicken
Church’s Chicken has been in business for decades and now has over 1100 restaurants in the US alone. It has gone through several phases and remained standing.
This longevity bespeaks stability, which is its competitive advantage.
Also, because of the length of time, it has taken in the industry, it has developed experience and expertise.
While this may not bring in a ton of new customers, it helps it consolidate its market share.
Currently, it makes about $700 million a year.
McDonald’s is the world’s largest fast-food restaurant chain, with over 30,000 outlets globally. 13,000 of these are in the United States alone.
These outlets bring in a revenue of over $8.7 billion in the US. Though it doesn’t bill itself as a strictly fried chicken restaurant, it has made significant inroads into the segment.
Its competitive edge is its sheer size, brand strength, and resources.
Even on a modest scale, anything it does is significantly big enough to upset fried chicken dedicated players like Popeyes.
10. Burger King
Burger King was founded in 1954 and is the second-biggest fast-food restaurant globally by revenue.
In the US alone, it has 7,300 locations that bring in annual revenue of over $10 billion.
Though it is known as the home of the whopper and does more burgers than anything else, this restaurant has a veritable range of fried chicken dishes that firmly establish it as a competitor.
11. Long John Silver
Long John Silver was a pioneer in selling seafood on a fast-food basis and is the largest restaurant that does so globally.
With more than 700 locations in 38 US states and Singapore and revenue above $20 million a year, this restaurant competes with Popeyes seafood products.
Popeyes faces stiff competition in all its business areas, including more significant and more savvy restaurants. There is competition in its top products, fringe products like seafood, and even over various sections of its target market.