People become members of club stores for a variety of reasons, but there’s little doubt they join mainly for one overriding reason: to save money.
If we were to survey members of Sam’s Clubs and ask them what single item out of the entire warehouse is the Club’s best value, what would they say? We know one person who wouldn’t hesitate to answer: Sam’s Club’s rotisserie-roasted chicken. That person is Dennis Horn, a senior merchandise director at Sam’s Clubs. ‘I believe it’s bar-none the number one best deal in the entire Club,’ Horn says.
‘The Club Member is getting a finished, marinated and roasted, ready to eat three-pound chicken for less than $5.00. That comes to $1.24 per person for a family of four.’
‘Some grocery stores may sell you rotisserie chickens from their deli department for a similar price, but their birds will be much smaller,’ adds Shawn Baldwin, VP of fresh merchandising for Sam’s Clubs. Sam’s Club’s bird size is a consistent three pounds. ‘Our competitors’ prices generally range from $5.99 to $9.99 if they’re selling a similar-sized bird.’
Sam’s Clubs have been selling these plump rotisserie-roasted birds for about 10 years now, and they are an enormously popular item, selling at the rate of 2,000 to 4,000 a week per Club store, according to Horn. The attractive price is only part of the product’s appeal. The flavor of the chicken is the result of a proprietary marinade and seasoning rub that has remained unchanged for a decade, Baldwin says. ‘We have won numerous blind taste tests against rotisserie chicken from other club stores and supermarkets. We’ve actually had executive chefs from restaurants come in and practically demand to be given the seasoning and marinade ingredients.’
Fresh, Never Frozen
Another reason for the flavor appeal is freshness, Horn says. ‘Our rotisserie chicken is never frozen. We use fresh birds only, and that makes a big difference, we believe.’ Quality control is another factor. Sam’s Club birds roast for about 90 minutes on a giant rotisserie that members can observe as they shop.
Watching dozens of birds rotating in formation no doubt has an impulse purchase effect on shoppers. The chicken is merchandised for sale only after it has reached the precise proper temperature. And if a chicken is not sold within 4 hours, it is pulled from the case and the meat is used for chicken salad or other products.
The Food Channel did a side-by-side comparison, pitting the Sam’s Club chicken against three supermarket deli chickens. Two of the competitors’ chickens were rotisserie chickens, one was advertised as a smoked chicken.
A Sizable Difference
We quickly noticed the difference in bird sizes and prices. The Sam’s Club chicken was the biggest and the least expensive. The closest in price was the smoked chicken, which was 1/3 smaller in size.
Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken. Weight: 3 pounds. Price: $4.97
Grocery rotisserie chicken No. 1. Weight: 2.5 pounds. Price: $7.99
Grocery rotisserie chicken No. 2. Weight: 2 pounds. Price: $6.49
Grocery deli smoked chicken. Weight: 2 pounds. Price: $4.99
Clearly Sam’s Club chicken was the best deal, price-wise, but what about flavor? Our team of Food Channel chefs tested the four chickens on taste, texture and appearance.
p(right caption). Sam’s Club chicken rated best overall
⋅ The smoked chicken had good flavor, but was rather dry—especially the white meat. The seasoning seemed uneven, one chef commented. He found it a bit salty.
⋅ Grocery rotisserie chicken No. 1 had a nice, plump appearance, but also had a lack of juiciness in its breast meat. (Plus, it cost $3 more for a bird that was a half-pound smaller vs. the Sam’s Club.)
⋅ Grocery rotisserie chicken No. 2 was rather pale in appearance, but it had a nice, natural texture and bite. The breast meat was a bit dry however.
⋅ The chefs rated the Sam’s Club chicken as best overall in appearance, taste and texture. They felt it had the most well-balanced flavor. The seasoning rub especially received high marks, making the skin hard to resist. It was juicy throughout—both white and dark meat.
Best value in the entire Club? Well, you’ll have to decide for yourself. Their tire deals are pretty good, too.