A new large-scale consumer study conducted by Market Force Information reveals America’s favorite quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains in five popular food categories: burgers, sandwiches, Mexican, pizza and chicken. The study found In-N-Out is America’s favorite burger chain; Wawa ranked first for sandwiches; Chipotle for Mexican food; Pizza Ranch for pizza; and Chick-fil-A for chicken.
Nearly 11,500 consumers were polled for the study, which also reveals consumers’ QSR dining habits, brand preferences and in-restaurant technology use.
“In this year’s study, we saw that scores on the Composite Loyalty Index for QSR brands across all categories declined from last year,” said Brad Christian, chief customer officer at Market Force. “We attribute this to two factors: consumer expectations of the QSR experience are rising and, in many cases, execution at these restaurants is declining. As our research continues to show, delighting guests by providing an exceptional customer experience is a key differentiator in an incredibly competitive environment.”
According to Market Force, more and more, QSR brands are seeing competition from convenience stores and, for the first time in this study’s history, a convenience store was named America’s favorite spot to grab a sandwich.
Wawa is a 54-year-old chain with more than 790 convenience stores on the East Coast. It offers fresh food selections such as custom-prepared hoagies, freshly brewed coffee, hot breakfast sandwiches, specialty beverages and an assortment of soups and sides. Wawa rose four places to unseat the 2017 sandwich category winner, Firehouse Subs, which slipped 15 percentage points to land in second place this year. Jersey Mike’s was third, followed by Jimmy John’s, Jason’s Deli and McAlister’s Deli.
Other sandwich category highlights
- Thirty-two percent of those polled visited a sandwich chain at least five times in the previous 90 days.
- Half of customers chose take-out on their most recent visit, while 36 percent dined in.
- Only 12 percent brought children on their most recent visit.
- Wawa, once again, has the highest mobile app awareness with 67 percent, up from 48 percent in 2017.
More using tech to place orders
The use of technology by QSR guests to place their orders continues to steadily grow, with 39% reporting that they ordered their meals via smartphone app in the past 90 days, a significant increase from 2015 when just 11 percent reported doing so. Additionally, 28 percent used a kiosk and 27 percent used a tablet to place their order.
The survey was conducted online in February 2018 across the U.S. The pool of 11,487 respondents represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions. Fifty percent reported household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 73 percent were women and 26 percent were men.