As fast-food restaurants continue to dictate the terms of their own rapid growth, consumers find themselves awash in options. A chain has to deliver, and deliver regularly, in order to maintain the kind of loyalty that separates a breakout success from a fading enterprise.
Market Force Information’s annual survey of more than 7,600 fast-food customers gauges a Composite Loyalty Index based on staff friendliness, location cleanliness, food quality, and other key factors. The survey is quite a lot to digest, so here are a few key takeaways from the 2019 findings:
- Not that this hasn’t already been established, but people love them some Chick-fil-A. The chain not only finished with an overall Composite Loyalty Index of 79, the highest of any restaurant in this year’s survey, but it also topped all other chicken restaurants and dominated seven out of eight of the poll metrics.
- However, the competition looks to be heating up, given that Raising Cane’s finished with an overall index of 78, placing it ahead of every restaurant featured in the survey except for Chick-fil-A.
- For burgers, In-N-Out remains supreme with an overall 73, ahead of Five Guys (68) and Culver’s (67). Five Guys did, however, pull ahead with respect to food quality, speed of service, and atmosphere.
- Elsewhere in the burger category, McDonald’s brought up the rear at 28, with Burger King not far ahead at 33.
- In the Mexican category, Chipotle took the crown with a 61, despite winning out in just 3 of 8 metrics.
- Blaze Pizza takes the crown for ‘za with an overall 69, while none of the veteran national chains (Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut) placed above 50.
- Jersey Mike’s is the king of sandwiches at 69, with Firehouse Subs (68), Wawa (62) and Jimmy John’s (62) also performing well.
- Culver’s (72) edged out Cold Stone Creamery (70) in the Frozen Dessert and Smoothie category.
- In a bit of an upset at a glance, Krispy Kreme (64) landed ahead of Panera (60), Starbucks (55), and Tim Horton’s (54) in the Coffee category.
As a gauge of overall consumer approval, the Market Force survey offers a solid window into what’s getting people excited (and not) about their fast food. It also offers yet more evidence that what we’ve historically considered and/or expected from our fast food is changing, and changing fast.