Recent Study Sheds New Light on Quick Service Restaurant Industry
Jul 5, 2011
A new study from Consumer Reports sheds some new light on customer perceptions of the quick serve restaurant industry.
The magazine issued its first-ever quick-service food chain ratings, which included 53 chains in the fast casual, quick-service and pizza segments.
Other than the actual rankings of each restaurant, the study revealed some important trends that can help shed some light on the QSR industry, such as:
a) Customers appreciate friendly service. It is more than food. A smile still goes a long way.
b) Diners want better food. Many restaurants scored higher for service — specifically, speed and politeness — than for food. Customers are not expecting epicurean delights from QSRs, but do expect good taste.
c) People are still looking for value. Only 54 percent of the population cited low prices as a reason for picking a specific restaurant. However, only 19 percent said they received “excellent” value for their money. Are you giving customers’ their moneys worth?
d) Customers are not always honest about their desires. Consumers want healthy, but don’t order healthy. When asked if they had eaten a healthful meal at their most recent visit to a chain, only 13 percent of those surveyed said yes, despite the increasing options of healthier fare. At pizza chains specifically, only 4 percent said yes. Are you marketing your food as healthy?
e) Diners want full service experience at quick service restaurants. This might be an example of wanting it all, but diners were much less pleased overall with quick-service restaurants than with casual full-service eateries.
f) Customers are loyal. Survey respondents bought lunch or dinner at one of the featured chains four times a month on average. Thirteen percent visited these establishments 10 or more times a month. What are you doing to win over more of these loyal customers?
g) Economy is still an issue. Twenty-two percent said they eat out less often than they used to because of financial concerns. Are you running specials or offering value-priced meals?
Other trends evident at chains include barbell pricing — mixing low-price choices with patented specialties and pricier items; upgraded facilities, including the addition of a second drive-thru; additional delivery options such as online ordering for pickup; expanded menus to include snacks and breakfast; reduced fat and sodium; and catering to food allergies and sensitivities such as offering gluten-free choices.
What can you do to better enhance customers’ perceptions of your restaurant? After all, perception is everything.