On the Web, it turns out there's no competition among quick-service restaurant (QSR) brands. With a total online media value of $77 million, Starbucks dominated the field during the first quarter, according to a new report from media measurement technology firm General Sentiment.
The coffee maker's closest competitor was McDonald's, with a far more modest online media value of $37 million. "Starbucks and McDonald's are continuously finding ways to innovate, thus generating discussion online about their brands in both social and news media," said Greg Artzt, CEO of General Sentiment.
Giving the brand a boost, Starbucks released its smartphone-based prepaid payments system in January, and by the end of March, revealed that the system had processed more than 3 million transactions.
As a result, Starbucks generated more than $77 million in Impact Media Value (IMV) -- General Sentiment's patented metric designed to measure brand reach and place a value on the overall level of discussion and exposure for a brand.
Meantime, McDonald's move into "healthier" menu items, like their new breakfast oatmeal, was widely ridiculed online, with sources like The New York Times noting that the new menu item contained more calories than a standard McDonald's hamburger.
Still, the new "healthier" oatmeal offering helped generate more than $37 million in IMV for the brand overall.
"Even when the innovations aren't terribly well-reviewed or received by the news media, as with McDonald's new oatmeal offering, these moves are still creating significant amounts of discussion online, keeping brand awareness high," Artzt added.
Other top-ranking QSR brands included Chipotle Mexican Grill, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Wendy's. IHOP was the only "casual dining restaurant" to make General Sentiment's Top 10 list.
IHOP's high ranking was a result of its National Pancake Day on March 1, which helped the brand generate $7.4 million in IMV, according to General Sentiment. The chain also exceeded its fund-raising goal, raising a total of $2.5 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and other charities.
General Sentiment also conducted an analysis of how negative press impacts brands differently.
Chipotle and Pei Wei Asian Diner were both involved in illegal employee police raids. While both brands suffered drops in sentiment associated with the raids, the effect on Pei Wei was sustained much longer. It generated high levels of negative Perception Media Value (PMV), a metric which, unlike Impact Media Value, seeks to measure brands with a focus on the quality of the exposure created and assign dollar values accordingly.
Chipotle was able to turn the page on the incident much faster than Pei Wei, thanks to their strong presence in social media. Fans of the restaurant simply stopped talking about the raids faster than those of Pei Wei.