The top 10 quick-service restaurant apps in the U.S. were downloaded 13.1 million times in April, 22 percent more than those the month prior. Year-over-year in the month of April, downloads of the top 36 quick-service restaurant apps are up 26.4 percent. A download represents a new user and the first conversion on the mobile app customer’s journey.

App download chart.


From February to March, the Dairy Queen app grew downloads 193 percent and from March to April it grew an astonishing 974 percent. With 3.3 million new installs in April, it was just shy of overtaking McDonald’s for the top spot. It’s rare for any app to ever break over 1.5 million downloads, which Dairy Queen more than doubled, pulling it ahead of Starbucks and Domino’s, which often compete for the second spot in the monthly chart. This is the first time Dairy Queen has ever had a top 10 spot for monthly quick-service restaurant downloads. 

This magnificent surge in downloads is from its Blizzard promotion where new app users could score DQ’s famous ice cream treat for just 85 cents during a two-week period in April. Installs initially surged in late March when the promotion was first announced, which initially looked like poor timing because people downloading the app in March for a promotion that wouldn’t be happening for two weeks might forget. However, I checked and Apptopia indicates the Dairy Queen app has the Braze SDK installed, giving it the ability to send push notifications. Dairy Queen looks to have used this tactic along with another round of publicity and advertisements to push the promotion again once it went live.

Dairy Queen app download chart.

Looking back at the month-over-month movement of the top chart, Pizza Hut jumped up two spots to make it back on the board at No. 9. KFC fell off the chart, down four spots to No. 12. Subway slipped three spots from No. 4 to No. 7 while Chipotle moved down two spots from No. 7 to No. 9. Despite Domino’s announcing its availability on Apple CarPlay, it slipped down one spot to No. 6. 

The top app in terms of month-over-month growth (outside of DQ’s 974 percent) was Qdoba Mexican Eats with just 38 percent growth on the back of National Burrito Day. This was a small spike in downloads and does not represent a new high-water mark for the app’s daily installs. Qdoba created its first World Burrito Eating Championship in partnership with Major League Eating. It featured 10 professional eaters vying to set a new world record and become the World Burrito Eating Champion, as well as winning $10,000 in cash prizes. The championship was live streamed across QDOBA social channels and fans were able to purchase the official burrito that was being used in the eating competition.

Chipotle, Taco Bell, El Pollo Loco, Moe’s, and Del Taco all had National Burrito Day promotions as well. All but Qdoba saw only modest increases in downloads, nothing to call out. Only Qdoba treated its customers to a larger experiential event. Many offers did not specifically call out the mobile app. Del Taco did not even mention online orders being a component of the promotion. Looking across the various promotions, this “holiday” reads mostly as a necessary thing these brands do because they can’t be the only one to not run a promotion.

Adam Blacker is the VP of Insights at Apptopia, the leader in real-time competitive intelligence. Brands use the platform to generate insights across mobile apps and connected devices. They rely on Apptopia to better understand consumer behavior and intent across app-based devices to gain a competitive advantage.

Fast Food, Growth, Marketing & Promotions, Operations, Outside Insights, Story, Technology, Dairy Queen