Starting Monday, the chicken chain is offering Kentucky Fried Chicken Nuggets in restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina, for a limited time. The nuggets are made with white meat and KFC’s signature 11 herbs and spices, and they come in servings of eight, 12 or 36 pieces.
KFC already offers a few different types of chicken, including popcorn nuggets, on its menu. But it’s betting nuggets will be a draw for the younger set.
“We’re targeting younger customers, like Gen Z and Millennials, who are interested in boneless chicken options,” said a KFC spokesperson.
Gen Z, which includes those currently between the ages of 18 and 24, is an important demographic for restaurants.
“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, previously told CNN Business. It’s hard to develop loyalty “once somebody’s past that window,” he said.
But Gen Z is less interested in dining out than other generations were at their age, making it even more important for restaurants to try to grab their attention.
Creating buzz and selling snacks
Among all consumer groups, competition in the fast food world is tight. One way for brands to stand out is to test new items and make changes to menus whenever possible, creating buzz along the way.
Earlier this year, KFC offered a plant-based fried chicken nugget alternative for a limited time. That launch “elevated the brand and boosted relevance,” David Gibbs, CEO of KFC’s parent company Yum Brands (YUM), said during a May call with analysts.
The new nuggets have another potential advantage: They’re perfect for snacking, a trend that’s seeing a comeback as consumers adapt to hybrid work or return to the office. Nuggets could be a way for KFC to remind customers that they sell food that can be eaten on the go.
Other brands have also revamped their chicken lineups lately. Last year, Popeyes launched its own nuggets in an attempt to capitalize on the success of its blockbuster chicken sandwich. And earlier this year, McDonald’s brought chicken nuggets back to the menu at some of its locations for a limited time.