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Tham Yue Foon, General Manager, Texas Chicken Malaysia. /Photo provided.

How Texas Chicken cracked the code to a successful LTO launch

LTO launches need support from properly trained staff.

Limited-time offers are profit centres for 61% of restaurant operators in 2023 according to a report by Datassential so keeping taste and quality consistent is vital for brands who own multiple restaurants.

Take, for example, Texas Chicken Malaysia’s launch of its Lunar New Year-inspired menu, the Red Fortune Chicken.

This year of the dragon, Texas Chicken created a dish that features an orange-red glaze with a balanced mix of tomato, chilli, and spices, delivering a medium spiciness tailored for the Malaysian palate. Beyond its culinary appeal, the dish also symbolises auspiciousness and joy, aligning with the traditional Chinese New Year theme of 'Red' for good fortune.

“We have always been innovative in creating limited-time offerings. From our Fire Dragon Burger and Wrap, right up to the Ayam 8 Lada (8 Pepper Chicken) and Chocolate Chip Biscuits. We need to move fast enough to stay relevant in the face of evolving consumers' tastes and preferences,” Tham Yue Foon, General Manager at Texas Chicken Malaysia, said to QSR Media.

By getting to know popular trends and flavours, Texas Chicken doesn’t want creative inspiration. The main challenge, however, is to ensure that once the new menu item is launched, its taste and quality remain consistent across more than 90 of its restaurants.

This means proper staff briefing, training, and monitoring are crucial at the restaurant level, both before and after the new menu launch.

That’s why Texas Chicken has its own Menu and Training team that works on developing the operational guidelines for cooking and preparing the product based on the proper ingredient build-up, quality standards, and safety measures.

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“We have a structured training process in place, whereby the theoretical learning and practical training are conducted two weeks ahead of the new product launch. We start by training the Area Managers, followed by the Restaurant Managers, and finally the kitchen team at the outlets,” Foon said.

Following the launch, an audit is also conducted to identify and resolve any gaps and operational issues, to ensure consistency in product quality, portion size, and flavour.

Localisation still matters

According to Foon, popularity drives consumers in Malaysia, so localising the menu is a very high priority for the brand.
 
“Our creative limited-time offerings have been driven by various factors, such as the diversity and richness of Malaysian cuisine, the pride and patriotism of Malaysian consumers, and the current popular flavours in the F&B scene,” Foon added. 

In 2021, Texas Chicken launched its Masak Lemak Rice Bowl and the Masak Lemak Mash Bowl. the dish is characterized by its creamy gravy, made from a blend of coconut milk, turmeric, and other spices. This results in a rich, spicy, and slightly sweet flavour, that is truly unique to Malaysian cuisine.

This dish was borne from extensive research by the brand and resonated well with Malaysian consumers.

To remain true to its branding whilst still adapting to Malaysian taste, Texas Chicken works together with their US-based brand team.

“We collaborate to follow flavour trends for new limited-time offerings as well as understand consumer preferences across the Asia Pacific region. It is very helpful to be able to understand what differentiates us as a global brand from a  flavour and menu perspective. Locally, we can understand the right menu items and flavour profiles to deliver the best experience for our guests,” Yue Foon said. 

Another trend that Foon marked as important is the rapid digitalisation of the industry. As she sees it, this trend was driven by several factors. First is the widespread use of smartphones, the internet, and social media, second is the emergence of e-commerce and online delivery platforms, and last is the impact left by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“As a result, many of our consumers have become more accustomed to and reliant on digital channels and services, expecting them to be fast, easy, and reliable. They have also become more interactive and engaged, seeking to share their opinions, feedback, and preferences online. By using more data analytics and artificial intelligence, we can understand better what they like or prefer when we kickstart our R&D for limited-time offerings like the Red Fortune Chicken,” Foon said

To leverage these trends, Foon said they launched self-ordering kiosks, QR ordering systems, and online ordering self-pick-ups.

“This contributed positively to our business performance, with consumers embracing digital ordering for its unparalleled convenience. In 2024, we are planning to scale up our digitalization efforts with the introduction of the ‘Texas Chicken app’, to better meet the needs of our existing and future customers,” Foon added.

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