While eco-friendliness isn't a make-or-break factor in choosing a QSR for most consumers, it may encourage greater frequency by making consumers feel good about their choice, judging from a new survey from M/A/R/C Research.
The study surveyed 7,000 U.S. consumers who had dined within the past month in one or more types of QSRs (burger, chicken, Mexican, pizza, sandwich, seafood).
Asked how important it is to them that fast-food restaurants participate in green initiatives, nearly half (48%) said this is very important (29%) or extremely important (19%). Fifty-two percent of women and 44% of men fell into one of these two categories. About a third (34%) of total respondents ranked green initiatives somewhat important, 10% not very important and 8% not at all important.
Over half (51%) said they "prefer" fast-food restaurants that care about green issues but won't go out of their way to patronize them, and 39% said that green issues have no impact on their QSR choices. However, about one in 10 (11%) said they are willing to inconvenience themselves to patronize a restaurant that demonstrates environmental responsibility,
In terms of frequency of visits, nearly half (46%) said they support green initiatives, but that these do not affect their usage pattern, while more than one-fifth (21%) said they would visit a specific QSR more often if they knew that the restaurant focused on green practices.
However, it appears that QSRs need to work harder at getting the word out about their green practices. Fully 80% of users said they are not aware of QSRs taking specific steps to go green. Among the 20% with some awareness, McDonald's has the strongest green initiative perception (mentioned by more than half).
Many independents and chains have launched green initiatives. For instance, some locations of Subway, Chipotle Mexican Grill, McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts have received LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council; Chipotle is planning a rollout of environmentally friendly cutlery; Carl's Jr. has opened a green flagship restaurant in Carpinteria, Calif., and Yum! Brands has a green KFC/Taco Bell location in Northampton, Mass.