Qdoba, Firehouse Subs Among Leaders In Satisfaction

Qdoba Mexican Grill, Firehouse Subs, Papa Murphy's and Raising Cane's ranked highest on overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend in a new North American survey spanning the Mexican, sandwiches, pizza and chicken restaurant segments.

The survey — which focused primarily on QSRs, but also included leading fast-casual chains in which customers order at a counter — was conducted in February among 6,197 U.S. and Canadian adults by customer intelligence solutions provider Market Force Information. 

The sample was representative of the adult populations in terms of income, geographic distribution, age and children in households. However, about 75% were women, reflecting that women are often the decision-makers on restaurant venue, particularly in family or group dining scenarios, according to Market Force. All respondents were pre-screened as having dined in QSRs or fast-casuals in the past 30 days, and for ranking purposes, as having visited the specific chain being ranked.

Respondents were asked to rank their satisfaction with leading QSRs in the four categories on seven attributes (quality food, value, fast service, friendly service, healthy food, atmosphere and accommodating children) based on their most recent dining experience, and to indicate their likelihood to refer others to that restaurant. The results were averaged to produce "Composite Loyalty Scores." The survey also probed consumers about their experiences in trying new restaurant brands, and their QSR/fast-casual dining habits and attitudes.

Segment Leaders

Among Mexican QSRs and fast-casuals, Qdoba's 65% loyalty score edged out Chipotle Mexican Grill's 63%. Those brands were followed by Moe's Southwest Grill (56%), Del Taco (44%), Taco John's (32%) and Taco Bell (32%).

Chipotle earned the #1 ranking in both quality food and healthy food. Qdoba was ranked second on both of those food attributes, and #1 in both fast service and friendly service. Qdoba also ranked second in atmosphere and accommodating children -- below Moe's and Taco Joe's, respectively. 

Del Taco was rated #1 on "value," followed by Taco Bell, Taco John's, Moe's and Qdoba. 

In the sandwiches segment, the leaders were Firehouse Subs and Panera Bread, with loyalty scores of 68% and 62%, respectively. They were followed by Jimmy John's (54%), Subway (46%), Arby's (45%) and Tim Horton's (35%).

Firehouse was ranked highest on friendly service and accommodating children, and second – below #1 Panera – on quality food. (Arby's, Jimmy John's and Subway ranked third through fifth on quality food.) Panera was also ranked #1 on healthy food (followed by Subway, Jimmy John's, Tim Horton's and Arby's) and on atmosphere. 

Subway ranked #1 in value, followed by Tim Horton's, Jimmy John's, Arby's and Panera. Jimmy John's was ranked highest for fast service, followed by Tim Horton's, Subway, Arby's and Firehouse. 

Among pizza brands, Papa Murphy's led with a loyalty score of 68%, followed by Pizza Ranch (52%), Papa John's (44%), CiCi's (39%), Domino's (38%), Pizza Hut (35%), Little Caesar's (35%) and Sbarro (28%).

Papa Murphy's ranked #1 in quality food and healthy food, and #2 in fast service and value. Pizza Ranch ranked #1 in atmosphere and accommodating kids, and #2 in quality food, healthy food and friendly service. 

CiCi's ranked #1 in value, followed by Papa Murphy's, Little Caesar's, Papa John's and Domino's. Little Caesar's was rated highest on fast service.

Among chicken chains, Raising Cane's led with a loyalty score of 73%, followed by Chick-fil-A (71%), Zaxby's (61%), Wingstop (56%), El Pollo Loco (51%), Boston Market (46%), Popeyes (39%), Church's Chicken (35%) and KFC (24%). 

Raising Cane's was ranked #1 on quality food, followed by Chick-fil-A, Zaxby's, El Pollo Loco and Boston Market. (Raising Cane's also ranked highest on fast service.) El Pollo Loco ranked highest on healthy food, followed by Boston Market, Chick-fil-A, Zaxby's and KFC. 

Chick-fil-A ranked highest on friendly service, atmosphere and accommodating children. El Pollo Loco ranked highest on value.

Other Findings

*Most respondents reported that they had visited a fast-food or fast-casual restaurant for lunch or dinner at least two to three times in the previous month. One-third said that they eat out in these types of restaurants at least three times a week. 

*By day part, the average numbers of trips to these restaurants in the past 30 days was 3.2 for lunch, 2.7 for dinner, 1.4 for breakfast, 0.8 for snacks and 0.4 for both special events and late-night occasions.

*55% reported participating in restaurant loyalty programs and of those, 48% said they participate in three or more such programs.

*59% of customers who had tried a restaurant brand new to them within the past 30 days reported that their experience was "OK" or "bad," while 41% were "delighted."

*Those who were "delighted" when trying a restaurant brand for the first time were 7.6 times more likely to say that they would recommend it than those who had an "OK" experience.

* The top reasons cited for expressing dissatisfaction in trying a new restaurant were prices too high for the value, poor food quality, and too long a wait to receive orders.

*60% of overall respondents reported having visited a restaurant with a Coca-Cola Freestyle dispenser and, of those, 94% had used one.

*39% of all respondents read an online review, blog or tweet about a restaurant before dining there (on par with the 40% who reported doing so in 2012).

*10% posted an online review, blog or tweet about a restaurant (on par with 11% in 2012).

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