Industry News | February 26, 2011 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Report: Keep It Simple, Like Subway

Subway was the top quick serve in a recent study measuring consumer perceptions of the “simplicity” of various brands.

The Global Brand Simplicity Index from strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale gauged more than 6,000 consumers’ opinions of what brands made their lives simpler. In the U.S., five quick-serve brands cracked the top 10: Subway at No. 2, McDonald’s at No. 3, Dunkin’ Donuts at No. 4, Burger King at No. 5, and Starbucks at No. 9.

Netflix was the top overall brand in the U.S.

Brian Rafferty, global director of customer insights for Siegel+Gale and head of the Global Brand Simplicity Index, says quick service was a dominant industry in the study because its very nature is to make food more convenient for people.

“Fast food still very much resonates with people in terms of people do see it as making their lives easier and they also see the brands themselves as being simple,” Rafferty says.  

“One reason is the amount of choice they’re giving people—they’re not overwhelming them with choice, they’re giving customers something very easy to navigate and [customers] know exactly what they want and how to get it.”

Walmart came in at No. 6, Trader Joe’s at No. 7, and Kroger’s at No. 9 on the U.S. Simplicity Index, proving that food and retail especially resonate with consumers in terms of simplicity. The mortgage, insurance, and credit card industries ranked on the lower end of the study, Rafferty says.

Rafferty says there is big benefit to being perceived as simple by consumers.  

“There really is a premium to simplicity in the sense that people are willing to pay more for simplicity,” he says. In fact, the Global Brand Simplicity Index found that surveyed consumers were willing to pay a total of $27 billion more for brands that offer simpler services and products.

Rafferty says quick serves should look at their touch points and messaging with consumers to determine how to make their own brands simpler.

“The first thing is really truly understand who you are as a brand, what your purpose is, what you’re trying to deliver,” he says.

“If you articulated a brand promise or positioning or whatever your core idea of the brand is, and then reflected that and acted on that, that would be [perceived as simpler].”

By Sam Oches