I ask this purely from a marketing perspective.
Here’s why: Chick-fil-A takes in more than $4 billion each year by aligning perfectly with the community it serves: traditional, family-oriented people of all ages, races and creeds.
Chick-fil-A has raving fans
Meanwhile, they’re extraordinarily efficient about not expending resources elsewhere. They’ve targeted exceptionally well, just by being who they are.
If you’re not a part of their extended community, you may be unfamiliar with how the company became so successful. It’s more than just tasty sandwiches and lemonade, or cool ads from The Richards Group.
No matter where you stand on Chick-fil-A’s values, or the size of your business, or what markets you serve, you can take lessons from their success.
The secrets of Chick-fil-A’s brand power
1. They’re different
In a crowded marketplace, Chick-fil-A stands out. Where they operate, people know it’s the original chicken sandwich place with clean stores and friendly people that’s closed on Sunday because it’s the Sabbath. That last one is a big clue about their values. It’s often said that CFA has lost billions in sales over the years being closed on Sundays. I believe the exact opposite.
2. They’re focused
Along with their product focus, they focus on a particular clientele. That’s why they market extensively with college football, instead of the NFL. It allows them to reach a broad cross-section of their Southeastern base. What’s more, college football games aren’t on Sunday, when Chick-fil-A stores are closed and their core customers are in church. (Expect some pressure for colleges to disassociate from CFA sponsorship.)
3. They make the customer #1
CEO Dan Cathy would say God is number one. But the company expresses this with a fanatical dedication to providing an exceptional customer experience. They have the raving fans to prove it. Like Grateful Dead “Deadheads,” they travel across the country to attend a store opening, camping overnight and mingling with Chick-fil-A brass. True love, from both sides.
4. They treat their staff with respect
More difference: a different business model. They don’t sell franchises. They license “operators” who commit as little as $5,000. People who could never dream of owning a McDonalds can “have” a Chick-fil-A, if they promise to work at the restaurant on a full-time, hands-on basis. Store managers become partners in their success. Is that one reason for their famous customer service?
5. Their strong brand serves them in good times and bad
Chick-fil-A’s incredible brand strength has been a key part of their growth. Now, brand loyalty will be their greatest asset. Can you imagine a Taco Bell Appreciation Day?
So what will be the fallout?
Chick-fil-A has put itself in a position where a lot of people disagree with its point of view.
But if you or tens of millions disagree, will it really hurt Chick-fil-A’s business? Chances are, you don’t patronize them to begin with.
Because of their extraordinary positioning and alignment with their core customers, I don’t expect the raving fans, or even a significant portion of the occasional customers, to change their mind or buying behavior.