Among teens, Raising Cane's enters the chat

The fast-growing chicken finger chain was ranked fifth among teens’ favorite restaurants, according to the latest Piper Sandler survey. But Chick-fil-A is still king.
Raising Cane's teens
Raising Cane's is the fifth favorite restaurant chain among U.S. teens. | Photo: Shutterstock.

The kids love chicken more than coffee.

The Atlanta-based chicken sandwich chain Chick-fil-A once again was listed as teenagers’ top restaurant chain, according to the twice-yearly “Taking Stock with Teens” survey from Piper Sandler released on Tuesday.

That’s unsurprising, given that Chick-fil-A has had a stranglehold on that ranking for five years, since it leapfrogged the coffee chain Starbucks to take the top spot among the 19-and-under set.

But this fall’s ranking also includes an interesting newcomer at No. 5, Raising Cane’s. The fast-casual chicken fingers chain also displaced a coffee chain, in this instance Dunkin’, to become one of teens’ five favorite restaurant concepts.

The closely watched survey features data from nearly 9,200 teens, with an average age of 15.7. The survey includes results from numerous industries and includes a broad range of questions. Teens are an important market to study, as they tend to be early on trends and spend much of their income on discretionary purchases.

That spending apparently has taken a hit this year. Teens said their year-over-year spending fell 1% this year, the first decrease since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Teens are also concerned about inflation. Nine percent of teens listed it as their top social cause, second only to the environment, which was easily tops at 19%.

When it comes to restaurants, the survey can demonstrate which concepts have the broadest appeal and the most staying power.

Since Chick-fil-A first took the top spot in the Piper ranking, for instance, its system sales have grown more than 80%.

The Atlanta-based chicken sandwich chain was listed as the top concept with a 16% "share of wallet" among teens, ahead of Starbucks (13%), McDonald’s (9%) and Chipotle (8%).

Raising Cane’s finished a distant fifth, with a 3% share of wallet among U.S. teens. Yet it has been one of the fastest-growing chains in the U.S. in recent years. The company’s system sales have tripled over the past five years. It generates $5 million in average unit volume and executives believe the chain can become one of the 10 largest by the end of this decade.

The results of the teen survey are unlikely to discourage that.

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