The QSR Plus subsegment continues to be a sweet spot, with chains such as In-N-Out Burger and Culver’s scoring well for made-to-order fare served at a value price. Other quick-service concepts are responding, offering more low-carb and organic options as well as looking at potential improvements to the supply chain.
Overall Score: 59.9%
The chicken chain laid out a number of technology and health goals for 2016. It debuted a mobile app over the summer, which offers loyalty, ordering, payment—including Apple Pay—and speed-focused pickup services aimed in part at families who want to make the drive-thru experience more convenient.
Much of Chick-fil-A’s menu development over the last year focused on better-for-you rollouts, including organic apple juice for kids, superfood sides, an egg white breakfast sandwich and a grain bowl. It also made a commitment to serve cage-free eggs and experimented with regionally sourced ingredients. But it’s not relying solely on in-house intelligence to drive such change. “It’s great to have a tool like social media to gather immediate feedback,” says SVP and CMO Jon Bridges. “We brought back our original barbecue sauce in response to customer feedback on social media.”
Parent: Chick-fil-A Inc.
2. Papa Murphy’s
In a move to increase convenience, the take-and-bake pizza chain debuted a retooled website this spring, allowing guests to customize their pizza order before arriving at the store to pick it up. The chain also invested in software to make sure its tech-based systems, including online ordering, are being used efficiently and effectively.
3. In-N-Out Burger
The cult favorite that doesn’t often implement big changes is making an effort to remove human antibiotics from its beef supply. In-N-Out is one of the first QSRs to make an antibiotic-free commitment for beef, though others have done so with chicken. The chain also held a handful of international pop-up events to promote its name worldwide despite its regional positioning.
5. Potbelly Sandwich Shop
The only new entrant among the top five QSRs, Potbelly has been working on diversifying the menu while not straying too far from its signature made-to-order sandwiches. Playing to the increased demand for fewer carbs and more protein, the chain added Power Protein Salads as well as unveiled seasonal items this fall with Buffalo chicken and pumpkin.