- Hooters is adding plant-based wings to the menu, a vegetarian option made in partnership with meat alternative maker Quorn.
- The chicken chain hopes that the plant-based wings appeal to its aging core customer base, as well as millennials and female customers, Hooters’ global chief marketing officer Carl Sweat told Business Insider.
- Hooters has been trying to draw in more female customers in recent years, with orders from women increasing by 50% since 2015, according to the company.
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Hooters is adding plant-based “chicken” wings to the menu.
On Monday, the chicken chain announced it is launching meat-free wings, called UNreal Wings, made in partnership with plant-based “meat” maker Quorn.
Hooters believes that the new plant-based wings will both bring in new customers and appeal to its aging core customer base, according to Carl Sweat, Hooters of America’s global chief marketing officer.
“As many of us have aged and seen the opportunity to eat better,” people have been drawn to plant-based options, Sweat told Business Insider in an interview on Monday.
With more education and information shared via social media, Sweat said, the chain’s core audience of men over forty is becoming more focused on nutrition.
Hooters is also working to win over women, as well as millennial and Gen Z customers – groups outside of the chain’s traditional sweet spot. These groups are already drawn to plant-based options as they focus on health and sustainability, according to Ben Sussna, Quorn Foods’ head of marketing.
Hooters has been making a major effort in recent years to convince more women to eat at the chain. According to the company, the number of women visiting or ordering the chain via delivery has increased by 50% since 2015, as Hooters has worked to improve its food quality and add options that prevent women from vetoing a visit to the chain.
“Sometimes the no vote would have been, well they don’t have things I can eat, I don’t want to eat fried foods,” Sweat said. “So really bringing forth healthier options was a big part of that. Adding kids meals and a complete kid’s meal with milk … Just making sure that people understand that, we are a family restaurant.”
While Hooters is making some changes, the chain’s Hooters’ Girls remain front-and-center in the advertisements for UNreal Wings. Hooters Girls – who act as servers at the chain and are considered the brand’s “ambassadors” – participated in blind taste tests of the plant-based wings. When it was revealed that the wings did not contain chicken, the Hooters Girls’ shocked reactions were captured on camera, and are being used in the commercial for UNreal wings.
“They are the chicken experts,” Sweat said of the commercial. “They engage with more people on a daily basis about chicken, and they eat the product.”