The brand’s positive Buzz and Impression have seen an uplift amidst the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic forced some dine-in restaurants to close their doors temporarily while others have completely shut operations. With empty dining rooms, restaurants are depending on pickup and delivery orders more than ever. YouGov BrandIndex, which monitors how media and news events impact consumer brand perception and purchase behaviours, shows the effect the pandemic has had on some of the brands in the restaurant and dining sector in the UAE.
The data show intent to purchase from a restaurant (whether dining out or food delivery) has plummeted amidst the pandemic, with the number of UAE residents who are very likely or likely to purchase from restaurant chains in the next two weeks seeing a decline ever since the virus first hit the country in early February. The decline is more prominent at the end of March, when the government issued a statement urging residents to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, and continues in April.
Even though some restaurants opened up for delivery, the intent to purchase remained low, perhaps due to people staying home and practicing social distancing. In fact, compared to 2019, the intent to purchase has dropped by 20 percentage points, from 75% to 55% in the 18th week of the year (end of April).
Even though, at an overall sector level, people are less likely to buy from restaurants amidst the ongoing COVID crisis, some brands have seen an increase in Buzz or Impression.
KFC is one such brand which has generated a lot of positive noise recently. KFC’s positive Buzz score (whether one has heard something POSITIVE about a brand in the past two weeks) has seen an increase of 12.3 points, from +27.5 on 3rd February’ 2020 to +39.8 on 3rd May’ 2020.
The positive Buzz around KFC has further improved the strong general Impression perceptions of the brand and for the same time period KFC’s positive Impression (whether one has a positive impression of a brand) saw a rise of over 10 points, changing from +33.1 to +43.5.
Even current customer level for the brand seems to be stable during this time period, from 33.1 at the start of February to 33.5 at the beginning of May.
This could be as a result of the launch of contactless delivery service by KFC and the personalised communication around it. To assure their customers of their safety standards and commitment to serve them, the brand launched a social campaign in March, asking customers to ‘Stay Safe. Stay Home.’ and encouraging them to order online.
In addition to this messaging, they offered free delivery without any additional charges.
The brand’s timely efforts in response to the Covid outbreak in the country seem to have resonated with residents and helped it stay relevant in their minds amidst the pandemic. YouGov will continue to track the extent of the success of these measures in the weeks to come.