Study: Close Look at Fast Food Restaurants: What Shoppers Love Most (and Least) About the Top-Rated Local and Chain Quick Service Restaurants in Over 20 U.S. Markets

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A nationwide survey of 1,200 U.S. shoppers in over 20 U.S. markets, conducted by retail design firm King Retail Solutions (“KRS”), identifies the core qualities and characteristics singled out by shoppers when describing a favorable vs. unfavorable “Fast Food” restaurant experience at local vs. chain restaurants.

pages 4 & 5 from the 10 page report on U.S. Fast Food Restaurants

While top local restaurants didn’t get as much recognition for fast or friendly service, these stores got comparatively more positive feedback for food quality, low prices, and larger servings than the chains.

The results of a Q4 2015 survey of 1,200 consumers, conducted by retail design firm King Retail Solutions (“KRS”) emphasize the value of consistently great-tasting food, fast and friendly service, fair prices, and a welcoming space (as well as multiple other factors) in operating a quick service restaurant (“QSR”) that’s well-loved by U.S. shoppers.

KRS identified and surveyed over 140 top-rated “Fast Food” restaurants (as categorized by Yelp!) in 24 cities, equally representing six distinct U.S. regions (Midwest, Northeast, Pacific, Rocky, Southeast, and Southwest) around the country. The 1,200 most recent Yelp! reviews (200 from each region) were analyzed. Any pros and cons mentioned were identified and catalogued. The published study, “Close Look at Fast Food Restaurants – What U.S. Shoppers Love Most (and Least) About Their Most-Loved Local and Chain Quick Service Restaurants,” represents the results of that analysis.

The data is further broken down by gender and by region of the U.S.

  •     Ex. women site food freshness as a positive quality more frequently than men
  •     Ex. While all regions cared most about good food and good service, in that order, ample serving size ranks as a Top 4 most-mentioned “pro” for those in the Rockies and Southeast but does not rank in the Top 4 for any other region of the U.S.
  •     Meanwhile, food freshness made the Top 4 only in the Southwest.

The study also breaks out the Top 4 benefits cited by shoppers for some of the top-rated Fast Food chains nationwide, breaking down those qualities by retailer. For example, 24% of their reviewers mentioned large serving size and fast service as benefits of patronizing Five Guys Burgers and Fries while 37% of MOD Pizza’s reviewers mentioned the build-your-own pizza chain’s fast service and fresh ingredients as benefits.

A special sub-report on food trucks looks at the relative difference between how these (often local) restaurants are reviewed versus their brick-and-mortar local counterparts. 11% of the top-rated local fast food restaurants in the survey were found to be food truck operations.

An accompanying article and analysis of the survey results includes a list of ways quick service restaurants large and small can create a “Fast Food” experience shoppers can’t live without (or at least one they would write rave reviews about).

To view the report online or download a PDF copy, visit http://www.kingrs.com/news/filter/white-paper/shopper-insights-study-close-look-at-fast-food-restaurants.

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Lindsey Muth
@kingretail
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