Subway's massive marketing investments in establishing a health-oriented positioning are paying off. The chain has captured a 76% share of lunch and dinner fast-food orders purchased for "health" reasons, according to new research on Americans' QSR habits. In comparison, McDonald's has an 11% share of health-driven orders, Wendy's a 10% share, and Burger King a 3% share.
These are among the findings from an independent "QSRdna" benchmarking study by CustomersDNA, a marketing research and consulting agency specializing in the food/beverage categories. The research was conducted among a representative sample of the U.S. population (15,000 consumers age six and above).
Among the two-thirds (67%) of consumers who eat lunch/dinner at leading QSRs, 15% reported that they sometimes choose menu items for "health" reasons.
On average, these health-conscious consumers patronize one or more of the leading chains (McDonald's, Subway, Burger King and Wendy's) nearly four times each month. "Health" is not their only criterion for choosing menu items -- in fact, value or taste more often drives their fast-food menu choices.
However, looking only at primarily "health"-driven meal purchases by this health-conscious segment, Subway captures 37% of these orders. In comparison, 5% or fewer of health-driven orders are purchased in any of the other three chains.
Consumers were also surveyed about which specific items they order from the chains when health is the primary driver of their meal purchase. All of the 10 most popular or frequently cited items were Subway items. Subway's Turkey Breast was #1, with a 19% share of health-driven orders across the four chains, followed by Subway's Veggie Delite (14%) and its Oven-Roasted Chicken Breast (12%). The rest of the top 10 were various Subway items with shares ranging from 7% to 3%.
"Consumers who cite health as driving their fast-food choices on at least some occasions clearly view Subway items as being somewhat healthier choices," sums up Dave Jenkins, a principal in CustomersDNA.
Subway has also been ranked #1 among "mega chains" for "healthy options" (as well as "most popular and "top service") in the past two years' Zagat Surveys.