Technomic has announced the winners of its 2014 Chain Restaurant Consumers’ Choice Awards, which are based on consumer assessments delivered through the research and consulting firm’s ongoing Consumer Brand Metrics study. “It’s important to point out that it’s the consumers who rated the chains and selected the winners,” says Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. “In essence, these awards are from the customers themselves.” The awards will be presented on January 22 at Technomic’s Consumer Trends and Directions conference, which is being held in Newport Beach, Calif.
About the research
Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics program is a comprehensive, ongoing brand performance study that tracks the performance of leading limited-service and full-service restaurant chains by measuring the consumer experience. This study included the top 100 chains in the U.S. in terms of sales, plus additional chains that fall outside the top 100 to round out certain categories. An online questionnaire asked consumers about the importance of more than 60 attributes related to the restaurant experience, followed by questions about specific restaurant brands and recent experiences with those brands. Scores represent the percentage of respondents who strongly agree with the statements on a scale of 1 to 5.
|Full Service||Fast Casual||Quick Service|
Why: The chain’s family focus, moderate prices, frozen treats—and the marketing of those treats as a way to spend 15 more minutes with family, makes it a winner parents.
Why: The comfortable atmosphere and services, such as having runners bring meals to the tables, providing drink refills and busing tables, take some of the pressure off parents.
Why: CiCi’s kid-friendly pizzas, from plain cheese to mac and cheese, offered at low prices resonate with consumers with children.
Why: The chain uses the tagline, “Happiness Here,” and embraces the whole dining experience, including being knowledgeable and friendly servers, according to consumers.
Why: The chain trains employees to find ways to improve a customer’s day with a smile or compliment, offering what the chain calls “heartfelt service.”
Why: The chain is known for treating employees well, including above-
average wages and benefits, which helps keep them happy and treating customers well.
|Craveability||Joe’s Crab Shack|
Why: Joe’s signature Steampots and Crazy-Good Crab Dip likely demand much of the credit, but its always-changing seasonal specials and tiki cocktails also inspire cravings.
Why: Fans of the chain can’t get enough of the chicken fingers, jumbo wings and seasoned fries, and they also feel strongly about their favorite sauce.
Why: In its favor is its variety of both sweet and savory soft pretzels, which it claims are held for no longer than 30 minutes.
|The Cheesecake Factory|
Why: The chain sponsors staff service projects and frequently donates gift cards to fundraisers, but perhaps its most public effort involves donating 25 cents of every slice of a cheesecake sold to Feeding America.
Why: Its multiple high-profile efforts include donating leftover food at the end of the day and opening pay-what-you-can outlets.
Why: Company- wide charitable efforts focus on supporting youth and education, local communities and family enrichment, and its long-standing tradition of staying closed on Sundays illustrates its religious-based priorities.
Why: The chain offers dishes made with zero grams of trans-fat and heart-healthy cooking oil, and low-calorie options include egg whites, oatmeal and petite muffins.
Why: The chain’s menu is free of artificial trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup and MSG, and it also offers a line of heart-healthy sandwiches and a salad bar with fresh produce.
Why: Its “Eat Fresh” slogan, napkins that list calorie counts and other nutritional facts, tie-ins with “The Biggest Loser” and of course customized sandwiches all show a focus on health.