The Great Chicken App Faceoff: Popeyes vs. Raising Cane’s

Tiffany Go
Head of Product Marketing
June 17, 2024

At Enterpret, we love to understand what makes a business tick and we found another team that loves this work just as much as we do. We partnered up with the lovely folks at Bottle Rocket, a digital product agency that specializes in building and growing digital experiences for today's leading brands.

Together we cooked up something tasty - a dive deep into the mobile apps of two of the world's most beloved chicken chains: Popeyes and Raising Cane’s. Read the full Chicken App Faceoff report here!

A.C.E.R. Framework: The Battle Plan

The Great Chicken App Faceoff follows the A.C.E.R framework, which focuses on four key areas:

  1. Acquisition: How effectively are the apps driving downloads and attracting new users?
  2. Conversion: Are the apps designed to encourage users to make purchases?
  3. Engagement: What strategies are used to keep users engaged and coming back?
  4. Retention: How do customers feel about their overall experience, and what drives their loyalty?

The Numbers Game: App Popularity and User Base

Popeyes, with its 2,700 North American locations, unsurprisingly boasts a larger user base compared to Raising Cane’s 700 locations.

Popeyes has 5 million installs on Android alone, while Raising Cane’s has 1 million. Despite this, Raising Cane’s app has an impressive number of reviews, indicating a highly engaged and loyal customer base.

Tech Spotlight: The Brains Behind the Apps

The Raising Cane’s app is built with Capacitor on top of Ionic, while the Popeyes app uses React Native with Expo.

Both are cross-platform technologies, ensuring consistent experiences across iOS and Android. However, Popeyes’ app tends to be more responsive, thanks to the performance characteristics of React Native.

See page 3 for a full deep dive into the tech!

Acquisition: The First Step to Delicious Chicken

Popeyes excels at driving downloads with a comprehensive strategy that includes digital marketing, TV campaigns, and in-store promotions. Their app features exclusive deals and discounts, appealing to a broad audience, including Spanish-speaking customers.

Raising Cane’s, on the other hand, focuses on influencer partnerships through their #CaniacAmbassadors program, featuring local celebrities and athletes. Their acquisition strategy is more subtle, with occasional mentions in ads encouraging app downloads.

Conversion: Smooth and Tasty Ordering

Both apps make it easy to customize orders and navigate the menu. However, Popeyes stands out with a more dynamic home screen and clearer UI for order pickup and time selection. Raising Cane’s app, while easy to use, could benefit from improved image quality and more consistent branding.

See page 5 and 6 for a full deep dive into the order flows!

Engagement: Keeping Customers Clucking

Popeyes sends a high volume of engaging messages, with 14 emails and push notifications over 14 days, featuring promotions and seasonal offers. While this might be overwhelming for some, it keeps users engaged.

Raising Cane’s sends fewer messages, with only one push notification over 15 days, leaving room for improvement in engaging new users. Their email designs could also be more visually appealing to capture attention.

See page 7 for a closer look!

Retention: Building Loyalty One Chicken Finger at a Time

Popeyes integrates their loyalty program seamlessly into the app, making it easy for users to sign up and track rewards.

Raising Cane’s, however, requires a more cumbersome process involving a physical card and multiple steps to activate offers. Despite this, Raising Cane’s has a dedicated customer base that loves their brand.

See page 8-10 for a full deep dive into retention analysis!

Customer Feedback: The Voice of the Chicken Lovers

We pulled in public customer feedback data (in this case, from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store) to see what customers are clucking about when it comes to Popeye's and Raising Canes.

Popeyes’ App Opportunities for Improvement

The specific bugs are different, but Popeye’s is also sometimes creating unnecessary hurdles for their customers. Some are unable to pay, and some can’t even select a location. Top complaints include: 

  • Payment processing problems
  • Difficulty selecting locations
  • Long wait times and missing orders

Here's a snapshot of Popeyes' customer feedback: 

Raising Cane’s App Opportunities for Improvement

The Raising Cane’s app has some of the more egregious own-goals: widespread issues with the login process that are preventing users from even getting into the app, and then some head-scratcher bugs that make you wonder how they got shipped, including one where a glitch in tax calculation is blocking some orders.

  • Order placement glitches
  • Tax calculation errors
  • Limited visibility of the loyalty program
  • Login and access challenges

Here's a snapshot of some of Raising Cane's customer feedback:

Take note, Raising Cane’s: if a customer has to wait 14 minutes they just might defect to your competitor. 14 minutes is not Tasty Chicken, Now.

But there are also some signs that the weakness in the loyalty program integration, discussed above, is hurting them. Issue With Lack Of Rewards System In App is the #5 issue, with some users who call it out not realizing that Cane’s even has a rewards system at all.

Popeyes vs. Raising Cane’s

But here’s a notable difference between the two apps: If Cane’s users are mostly frustrated with the hurdles to ordering, Popeye’s users are also pretty unhappy with what happens after they put in an order. There seem to be some issues with the processing of orders, since a few customers are reporting long wait times, or orders gone completely missing. Additionally, customer service, a lower-frequency complaint for Raising Cane’s, is #2 for Popeye’s. Food Quality, absent from the Cane’s chart, shows up at #7 for Popeye’s. Sometimes the two complaints are related, e.g., when a store refuses to refund food that the customer finds unsatisfactory. Here's some feedback from Popeyes customers: 

Overall, it’s hard to say who’s in the better position, but, on balance, it seems like if Raising Cane’s can iron out some of the highest-frequency blocking glitches, and – crucially – can fully digitize and integrate their loyalty program, they could come out ahead.

What’s Next? Recommendations for Improvement

Testing out these apps over the past few weeks has been a real treat for us. We got a front-row seat to the Great Chicken App Showdown and both experiences were finger-lickin' good!

For Popeyes:

  • Focus on order processing efficiency and customer service enhancements.
  • Improve UI for easier order customization.
  • Continue leveraging their integrated loyalty program.

For Raising Cane’s:

  • Address technical glitches and enhance the loyalty program integration.
  • Increase message volume and improve email design.
  • Incorporate more consistent branding and high-quality images.

The Bottle Rocket team created an awesome roadmap to summarize the high impact items to improve each phase of the A.C.E.R. framework: 

Wrapping Up the Chicken App Showdown

Our analysis revealed that while both apps have their strengths, there’s always room for improvement.

Popeyes excels in engagement and loyalty integration, while Raising Cane’s boasts a highly loyal user base despite some technical challenges. By addressing these areas, both brands can enhance their digital experiences and continue to delight their customers.

If you'd like a insightful evaluation of your digital presence, please reach out to the Enterpret and Bottle Rocket teams - we'd love to help your team craft excellent customer experiences!

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