Consumers' favorite chains 2016

Who is winning with consumers and what they’re doing right.

Quick Service

Quality resonates with consumers, even in quick service. Their four favorite QSRs fit in the niche between traditional fast food and pricier fast casual, a segment that Technomic calls “QSR-plus.” At these chains, operators are stressing better ambiance and good value. Food is touted as being higher quality and more wholesome than at chains such as McDonald’s or Taco Bell, but at a price point below the double-digit average of the fast-casual market. 

chick fil a nuggets fries

#1 Chick-fil-A

Parent: Chick-fil-A Inc.
HQ: Atlanta
Units: 1,887
Websitechick-fil-a.com

Sticking to its Southern-hospitality roots doesn’t mean Chick-fil-A isn’t willing to adapt, especially as it grows. When it opened its first full-scale New York City unit last October, for example, the chain, known for taking its time with guests, modified service—placing orders via iPads—to accommodate busy customers. It’s also exploring which menu trends appeal to its diners. It tested a spicy Sriracha sauce, superfood salad with kale and a barbecue sandwich last year. Up next: new mobile-app technology and nutritious options on both the regular and kids’ meal menus, says SVP and CMO Jon Bridges.

Overall: 63.4%
Service and hospitality: 76.7%
Appearance and ambiance: 60.0%
Food and beverage: 59.7%
Convenience and takeout: 67.5%
Value: 53.3%


papa murphys pizza

#2  Papa Murphy's

It was a big year for the perennial favorite take-and-bake pizza chain, which hit 1,500 units and divested its stake in fast-casual Project Pie. Many of Papa Murphy’s consumer-driven developments centered on tech, including the debut of a nutrition tracker on its website and a new  mobile-ordering app, launched in December.

Overall: 58.6%


in n out burger

#3 In-N-Out Burger

As usual, In-N-Out hasn’t changed much in the last year, yet its cultlike status remains intact. While many chains try to stay up on the latest trends, In-N-Out keeps its menu the same. It’s relatively quiet on social media, though it did go against the tide of partnering with delivery services, suing a third party for using its logo and delivering its food without permission. 

Overall: 57.9%


culvers burger

#4 Culver’s

Under the direction of the first non-family-member CEO, the QSR known for Butter Burgers continues to expand outside of its Midwestern roots. It’s also using LTOs to channel current trends—particularly the spicy craze popular among younger consumers—with ingredients such as four-pepper mayo, jalapenos and local Wisconsin pepper-Jack cheese. 

Overall: 56.6%


pinkberry pumpkin frozen yogurt

#5 Pinkberry

While the fro-yo trend may have hit market saturation, Pinkberry (which was acquired by Kahala Brands in December) managed to keep its tart frozen yogurt popular with consumers. It’s stayed fresh by adding new flavors—including its first dairy-free option—rolling out a happy-hour deal this summer and testing delivery with third-party vendor Postmates

Overall: 55.0%

Source: technomic


QUICK SERVICE

FAST CASUAL

MIDSCALE

CASUAL DINING

CONSUMERS' 20 FAVORITE CHAINS

 

VIEW THE FULL CONSUMER PACKAGE

 

Today's top stories

1
While Asian fare, from Japanese noodle bowls to Korean fried chicken, is a huge hit with today’s consumers, its popularity is only going to continue to boom. Technomic’s 2017 Top 500 Chains...
2
Domino’s proved once again it’s dodging the sales slowdown hamstringing other restaurant operations, posting a 10.2% domestic same-store sales gain for the first quarter. The leap in sales follows a...
3
The Food and Drug Administration is pushing back enforcement of menu labeling requirements for chain restaurants and retailers from the scheduled start day of May 5, according to a group lobbying for...
4
Cash may still be king, but a huge asterisk is being slapped atop that truism as it applies to restaurants. The number of places looking to forgo currency and accept only cashless payments, and app-...
5
It is a commendable goal to look at performance metrics to make sure your employees are performing to their potential and have incentive to excel. On the surface, there is nothing preventing an...
6
Much like food trucks before them, food halls are the new go-to format for incubating a restaurant concept. Chef Andrew Gruel knows this well. Gruel’s California-based fast-casual sustainable fish...
7
After revealing dramatic indications that a sales rebound is underway , Chipotle acknowledged more misfortune yesterday, warning customers that some personal information may have been swiped by...
8
Chipotle proved today its recovery drive is finding traction , posting a same-store sales gain of 17.8% for the first quarter of 2017 and an expansion of store-level operating margins to 17.7%,...
9
With more consumers expressing an interest in “free-from” foods and wanting to know the origin of their next meal, operators across segments are taking a more transparent approach to menu creation...
10
Consumers continue to show interest in clean, natural ingredients on restaurant menus. It’s easy to see why: Mandatory nutrition labeling for chain restaurant menus has pushed the idea of...