In a recent survey of restaurant customers in the United States, when it comes to identifying what drives loyalty for restaurants, the most commonly cited factors in determining which quick-service restaurant is visited most often are good value (58 percent), convenience (57 percent), low prices (53 percent), and fast service (51 percent).
Great-tasting food is only the eighth-most important factor in driving loyalty in this segment.
The survey also asked consumers to rate restaurant brands on different attributes. The quick-service brands with the strongest perception for providing "good value" among past visitors are McDonald's (57 percent), Subway (53 percent), and Taco Bell (48 percent).
McDonald's (68 percent), Subway (61 percent), Taco Bell (50 percent), and Burger King (50 percent) also score highly for having "very convenient locations."
The brands with the strongest perceptions for "fast service" were McDonald's (64 percent), Taco Bell (56 percent), Subway (55 percent), Burger King (55 percent), and Wendy's (55 percent). The top-scoring brands for "great-tasting food" were Subway (58 percent), Chick-fil-A (54 percent), and Wendy's (48 percent).
The survey also asked past-three-month visitors to each brand how satisfied they were with their most recent visit and how likely they were to visit again. While McDonald's had a low overall satisfaction score, with just 22 percent of past-three-month visitors saying they were extremely satisfied with their most recent visit, McDonald's nonetheless enjoys among the highest Intent to Visit Again scores, with 64 percent of past-three-month visitors saying they are "extremely likely" to visit again.
Only Subway and Chick-fil-A have higher Intent to Visit Again scores, 68 and 67 percent respectively. The highest satisfaction scores among past-three-month visitors were all earned by smaller brands: Chick-fil-A (66 percent), Long John Silver's (56 percent), and Whataburger (54 percent).
"For quick-service restaurant patrons, the most important factors that drive loyalty to a brand are good value and convenience, with low prices and quick service being very important, as well," says David Decker, president of Consumer Edge Insight. "McDonald's has a clear image lead on all of these factors, with Subway consistently being the second-best performing brand, and Burger King and Wendy's also performing well.
"McDonald's high repeat-purchase intention scores, despite their lower satisfaction scores, illustrates the strength of their brand on the attributes that matter most to quick-service customers," he adds. "Smaller brands need to find ways to differentiate themselves to gain share of wallet in this ultra-competitive segment."
The five times weekly e-newsletter that keeps you up-to-date on the latest industry news and additions to this website.