Burgers Not So Well Done

Study finds burger QSRs are most visited but leave customers least satisfied

A second round of results from the recent Empathica 2013 Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Benchmark Study have been released. The latest results reveal that burger chains are winning one battle and losing another in the QSR industry.

The survey queried 10,000 U.S. consumers on the 62 top QSR brands, measuring order accuracy, speed of service, menu, atmosphere and cleanliness, staff, and value. These results determined QSR category rankings, as well as the drivers behind customer loyalty for each genre of quick service restaurant.

Number of Visits Doesn’t Indicate Satisfaction

Based on the number of customer visits to the top 62 QSR brands reported in a 30-day period, the study ranked QSRs by category. Rankings by the number of visits do not reflect customer satisfaction. In fact, while burger chains attracted the highest number of visitors – likely due to the high number of burger chain locations that exist – the burger category lacked in key customer satisfaction areas.

Most visited QSR categories:

  1. Burgers – 60%
  2. Sandwich – 41%
  3. Pizza/Pasta – 33%
  4. Chicken – 30%
  5. Snack/Coffee – 26%
  6. Mexican – 24%
  7. Asian/Seafood – 12%

Overall, customers were satisfied with their visit:

  1. Sandwich – 52%
  2. Snacks/Coffee – 51%
  3. Mexican – 49%
  4. Chicken – 48%
  5. Pizza/Pasta – 48%
  6. Asian/Seafood – 43%
  7. Burger – 42%

Only 42 percent of consumers strongly agree that they are satisfied overall with burger chains compared to other QSR categories, and the smallest percentage of customers (38%) are likely to recommend these chains to others. Sandwich chain visitors, on the other hand, left most satisfied after their experience (52%) and, therefore, these visitors were most likely to recommend the establishment to a friend or family member (45% strongly agreed that they would recommend these establishments).

“Overall satisfaction and the likelihood of a recommendation are key to customer loyalty, which is also the key to long term QSR success,” says Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer for Empathica. “It is great to get a customer to visit your but the ultimate goal should be to provide that customer with a satisfying experience that motivates him or her – and his or her friends – to keep coming back through your doors.”

Demographic Findings Show Gaps in Marketing and Customer Loyalty

Both genders and all income levels cited burger chains as the top QSR visited in the past 30 days, males (62%) made more visits than females (58%) and individuals with lower incomes (63%) made more visits than those with higher incomes (59%). However, women have a stronger preference for pizza/pasta and snack/coffee than men do. To close this gender gap, burger chains specifically should strengthen their marketing and toward women.

A significant age difference is also found in preference for and restaurants. While 42 percent of 18-24 year olds visited pizza and pasta QSRs in the past 30 days, only 28 percent of 55-64 year olds reported a visit. According to the data, visits to pizza/pasta establishments are less frequent as age increases. This gap shows which markets pizza and pasta restaurants should target for customer loyalty, as well as what groups could use a push from marketing and advertising efforts.

“Different age groups prefer certain establishments, and knowing which markets are most and least likely to visit your QSR is valuable information for a There are specific groups that a restaurant can rely on to drive traffic to their restaurant, and there are other groups that could be strategically targeted to maximize guest reach,” says Edwards. “Overall, the results from this QSR Benchmark show strong consumer patterns that provide insight into the performance of quick service restaurants. If taken advantage of, these insights can be used to improve the customer experience and the success of QSRs across the United States.”

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