In July 2016, Chick-Fil-A replaced it’s beloved original BBQ sauce with the new Smokehouse BBQ sauce. As soon as people tried the new BBQ sauce in Chick-fil-A chains, they rushed to social media to express their discontent. As the number of people who complained about the new BBQ sauce on social media kept growing, Chick-fil-A listened and was able to understand the message: customers wanted to old BBQ back.
Here at Crimson Hexagon, we believe that brands like Chick-fil-A can leverage the feedback they get from social media to make strategic decisions, such as in menu development. Using social media analytics, we decided to dive into the social conversation to gather consumer insights that’ll help us understand what Chick-fil-A customers were really talking about.
The following visual shows the journey of the BBQ conversation since the beginning of July to October, from when the Smokehouse BBQ was introduced to when it announced it will be bringing back its original sauce.
After Chick-fil-A replaced its original BBQ sauce with its new Smokehouse BBQ, people rushed to social media to express their thoughts after trying it: they hated it. Chick-fil-A customers were all over Twitter ranting about the new sauce, and they even created the viral hashtag #BringBacktheBBQ.
As most of the conversation happened online, we tried to further understand and measure this reaction through social media listening. After analyzing the social media posts in regards to the new BBQ, we found that the overall conversation about the new BBQ sauce resulted in being 53% negative, while the positive conversation only accounted for 21%.
This finding is made even clearer by using the Word Cloud’s abilities. As seen above, Chick-fil-A’s smokehouse BBQ conversation contains a host of negative language like ‘hate’, ‘nasty’, ‘horrible’, ‘gross’, ‘sucks’, etc., further confirming the negative sentiment towards the new sauce.
After looking at the word cloud, we decided to dive further into what exactly this negative conversation was about, so we analyzed around 5,000 tweets of people who were unhappy with the new BBQ sauce. As shown in the visual, it is no surprise that 37% of the conversation consisted of people asking Chick-fil-A to bring back the original BBQ sauce while comparing the new sauce with the original one. Aside from general negative comments, there was a strong feeling of betrayal, complaints about the taste, as well as customers saying they’d boycott Chick-fil-A because of its new sauce.
Some of the popular hashtags created during these periods were: #BringBackTheBBQ, #CantBeatTheClassic, #BBQsauceIsLife, #All4UBBQ, #NoSmokey4Me, and #MakeSauceGreatAgain.
After so many complaints on social media as well as in stores, Chick-fil-A announced it will be bringing the sauce back on November 7th.
After this big announcement, the social conversation turned 59% positive, and only 21% negative, showing a huge positive shift in consumer sentiment towards the brand.
Not only did they upload an ad campaign announcing this, they even said they would provide a bottle of the original BBQ sauce to those who were most involved in this movement. Chick-fil-A responded to people’s please and brought back the BBQ sauce with the hashtag #BroughtBacktheBBQ.
In case you’ve missed it, here’s the video where Chick-fil-A responds to people’s tweets with its big announcement:
If we look at the time period after the announcement, the social conversation about Chick-fil-A and the original BBQ sauce changed drastically; in contrast to the previous Word Cloud, the most recurrent words this time were generally positive, such as ‘happy’, ‘good’, ‘thank’, ‘excited’, ‘love’, etc. Undoubtedly, the data supports that this was really good news for Chick-fil-A’s BBQ fans.
— taylynn :) (@taylloney) October 11, 2016
After thousands of customers turned to social media to complain about the new BBQ, Chick-fil-A listened and was able to understand the magnitude of the demand. Companies like Chick-fil-A can use social media listening to monitor new product releases and make better-informed decisions on product offerings, or detect these issues before they negatively affect their brand perception, and ultimately affect sales.
If you want to learn more on how to use social media analytics to discover valuable insights, download our Fundamentals of Social Media Analytics Guide here.