OK, we’ve talked turkey about this election. Now let’s talk chicken. Not many people make their living forecasting politics, but lots of people eat chicken.
The bellwether phenomenon (outlined in Part 1) applies beyond politics… Creative Testing is just, for instance, the bellwether principle from another angle.
Consider for a moment the case of “KFC.” KFC is a unit of Yum! Brands. It used to be known as “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” but the restaurant chain recently re-branded as “KFC” to de-emphasize the fact that many of its offerings are “Fried.” Now Yum! Brands is going one step further.
In an effort to broaden KFC’s appeal, Yum! Brands wants to take KFC out of the Quick-Service Restaurant (“fast food”) category and into Fast Casual Dining. (Fast Casual restaurants do not have full table service, but they offer made-to-order food and interesting decor, at a higher than average meal price.) KFC ‘s new Fast Casual concept is being tested as “KFC eleven” — a clever reference to the Colonel’s original 11 herbs and spices. But you won’t see the Colonel’s face there… And all of the chicken served at KFC eleven is boneless.
On August 5, KFC opened a single KFC eleven restaurant in Louisville, KY. It’s their bellwether riding! Over the course of the next few months, customers will vote with their wallets by either patronizing KFC eleven or by staying away. If the concept is a winner, it will be rolled out all across North America. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.
However, KFC did not pick Louisville by chance. While the company likely wanted a location close to its headquarters, it also wanted to test demand in an area that was similar to other potential money-making markets. Testing KFC eleven’s appeal in Louisville will also help Yum! Brands find the right formula (i.e. messages, menus, price-points and décor) before going big – and risking a major misstep.
We’re doing much the same thing at Thinkwell. Nearly everyday, we test new offerings, and help clients build creative strategies that work over time.
How’s KFC eleven doing? Well, they guard their data more closely than they guard the Colonel’s special recipe! But we’ll be watching to see whether other locations spring up.

25 Sep 2013