KFC Tests Chicken Nuggets to Draw Younger Crowd

More restaurants are introducing the bite-size chicken treat. Are nuggets the next menu category war?

July 20, 2022

KFC Location

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Kentucky Fried Chicken is piloting Kentucky Fried Chicken Nuggets in select restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina, available now for a limited time. The nuggets are made with white meat and KFC's signature 11 herbs and spices. They come in servings of eight, 12 or 36 pieces and are available with a sauce, including choices of KFC sauce, honey BBQ, classic ranch or honey mustard.

CNN reports that the fast-food chain’s foray into nuggets is intended to draw in a younger crowd.

"We're targeting younger customers, like Gen Z and millennials, who are interested in boneless chicken options," a KFC spokesperson told CNN.

Gen Z is less interested in dining out, according to a recent survey from NPD Group. Gen Zers (ages 18-24) ordered from restaurants 218 times on average between February 2021 and February 2022. When Gen Xers were that age, they went to restaurants 284 times in a year, and when millennials were that age, they went to or ordered from restaurants 244 times in a year.

"The earlier you can engage with a consumer, the more potential you have for building loyalty and building frequency over the course of more years," Robert Byrne, director of consumer and industry insights at the restaurant consulting firm Technomic, told CNN Business. "It's hard to develop loyalty once somebody's past that window," he said.

Forbes reports that the new menu category “war” could be chicken nuggets. Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s and Wendy’s have sold nuggets for years, and they have been top sellers, but now more chicken chains are trying out nuggets. Nuggets can drive traffic, according to Forbes, especially busy consumers with kids, or millennials.

Popeyes launched chicken nuggets last year, and Boston Market debuted Rotisserie Chicken Nuggets last week. Wendy’s introduced spicy chicken nuggets a few years ago, and they have been driving same-store sales after their initial launch. McDonald’s has been selling nuggets since 1980, while Chick-fil-A averages more than $8 million in sales per restaurant despite being closed on Sundays. The company says its nuggets are a major sales driver.

Earlier this year, KFC launched plant-based fried chicken made with Beyond Meat products. The fried chicken was available for a limited time.

The past few years have been dominated by a “chicken sandwich war,” and the menu item still proves to be a consumer favorite. See how convenience stores are competing in the NACS Magazine article “Chicken Sandwich Wars.”