Last Thursday, the chain rolled out the surprising new item for a seven-day stint that sparked excitement and got its hungry customers salivating. The $5.99 price gets you five bone-in wings that are coated in a queso seasoning and served with a spicy ranch dipping sauce.
Like many fast food promotions, the wings were always intended to be a limited time offer. The industry’s chains constantly tweak their menus with niche and oddball products that drum up excitement and social media attention. These specialty offerings are a way to cut through the noise.
Limited-time items are an important marketing tool for the food industry to draw in foot traffic and interest, according to Alexander Chernev, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
These items offer consumers some variety — key for fast food, as it’s a notoriously thin-margin business with little customer loyalty. Offering something new gives people a reason to come back.
“You need consistency because that’s the brand mantra,” said Chernev. “But no matter how much you like something, consuming something different increases the enjoyment of what you consumed before.”
There is a basic tenet of supply-and-demand economics behind limited-time releases, too: Scarcity can build hype. “It’s a way to create excitement for the menu,” R.J. Hottovy, a former consumer strategist for Morningstar, previously told CNN Business.
-— CNN Business’ Danielle Wiener-Bronner contributed to this report.
-— An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed an item in a list of food the company was offering nationwide last year. It was smoked brisket meat.