Chick-fil-A has a devoted, some might say fanatical, following. The fast food chain has won praise from consumers in recent years due to both its service and the quality of its menu.
But consumer passion for your product can be a double-edged sword, as the company found out this week when it confirmed a change to its breakfast menu. The Spicy Chicken Biscuit has been replaced with the Egg White Grill.
OMG! Social media erupted.
“The spicy chicken biscuit is the only reason I would eat breakfast at your restaurant,” one consumer posted on Twitter.
“Please,” another wrote. “How could anyone ever think someone would rather have an Egg White Grill, in place of THE SPICY CHICKEN BISCUIT??”
“Seriously, fire your market research team,” another advised.
Almost any restaurant will experience consumer push-back when a major change is made to the menu. Usually it blows over in a week or two.
The dust-up is often magnified, however, if the company has a huge footprint in the marketplace or has achieved iconic status.
Remember New Coke?
Both were the case 31 years ago when Coca-Cola shocked consumers by announcing it had changed the formula of Coke, rebranding it as “New Coke.” Coke had been losing market share to Pepsi, which had a sweeter taste, and Coke's top-secret blind taste tests confirmed consumers preferred it.
But consumers universally were outraged that Coke would tamper with a soft drink institution and within three months, it had put the original back on the market as “Coca-Cola Classic.” It wasn't long before New Coke disappeared from shelves and Coke Classic became just plain old Coke again.
It's not clear whether Chick-fil-A has stepped into a similar malstrom. But getting rid of the spicy biscuit for a sandwich made up of chicken, egg whites, and American cheese is not going over well, to say the least.
Will it lead to a retreat of Coca-Cola proportions? Customers posting on Twitter hope so.