These fast food chains have the most loyal customers
The fast food industry is an industry driven by hard data. With the wheels of change spinning so slowly in a global business valued at billions of dollars, quick service restaurants, or QSRs, need to calculate the numbers to make sure every move is worth it. (Example: Wendy’s has very careful data on who orders the most bacon.) One way QSRs do this is with mobile app, which tracks consumer spending to determine which items are selling the best. Another valuable piece of information is location tracking. This is the information that popular location data platform Foursquare uses to determine which restaurants have the most loyal customers, according to its annual report. QSR loyalty index.
Each year, the QSR loyalty index is compiled on the basis of four different factors which are evaluated against each other to determine a “loyalty” rating. These four factors are:
- Average number of visits per customer (if you’re a frequent visitor, you have to really like it!)
- What is the market penetration of the chain wherever it is located (this means that a regional brand like Burger In-N-Out does not automatically get a lower loyalty score just because a large part of the country cannot visit it)
- ‘Share of wallet’ or the proportion of a user’s fast food restaurant visits that were made in a single QSR
- “Fanaticism Threshold” or how much a customer would have to visit a particular fast food chain to be considered one of that chain’s top 1% of customers
This year’s data covered the period July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, a period entirely within the framework of the pandemic. While this is an atypical time of consumer behavior to analyze, Foursquare’s data has a lot to reveal about how we interact with QSRs on a daily basis.
“Despite the ever-changing landscape, our analysis of foot traffic is proof that it is possible to build a dedicated fan base in times of great uncertainty,” the report reads in part. So what were his conclusions?
Fast food chains with the most loyal customers
Although McDonald’s is the best restaurant chain in America in terms of turnover, it comes third in terms of customer loyalty. (Apparently all that Mark Style couldn’t get them to number one.) The QSR with the most loyal customers turns out to be — drum roll, please—Chick-fil-A, that you may have guessed based on the chain’s persistent desire to be the one you think about most fondly as you fall asleep at night, visions of chicken sandwiches dance in your head.
“End of March 2020, [Chick-fil-A] had closed all its dining rooms and shifted seamlessly to capitalize on its drive-thru, ”reads the Foursquare report. “To promote penetration amid the COVID-19 crisis, the brand has erected drive-thru tents and multi-lane configurations that have been successful in delivering a quality customer experience (including face coverings on the cow theme). Weeks after the lockdown, consistent lines of cars were waiting at Chick-fil-A stores across the country. “
Drive-thru lanes were and continue to be an almost universal achievement for QSRs during the pandemic. If you master your drive-thru process, you win. Just ask Taco Bell.
Can you guess which chain is following Chick-fil-A’s footsteps in terms of customer retention? The answer isn’t sexy, but it certainly makes a lot of sense: it’s Dunkin ‘, which Foursquare says has always had fast drive-thru and consistent convenience and efficiency. Think about it: it’s easier to push cars into the queue when you’re more likely to hand over a ready-made donut rather than waiting for a sandwich assembly. This association with frictionless service will in turn keep customers coming back. Well done, Dunkin ‘!
Although Mcdonalds was number three on the list, Foursquare notes that it had the highest penetration of any QSR in the country: 68.3% of U.S. consumers took a trip to McDonald’s in the one-year period analyzed . (Does this describe you? I know I picked up a McCafé for breakfast on at least a few road trips last year. Guess that means I’m loyal, not just under-caffeinated.)
The least loyal fast food chains
So what drove Foursquare’s QSR loyalty index down? No it wasn’t Metro, who actually did a really impressive performance at number four on the list thanks in part to a recent brand redesign which includes new menu items, a better mobile control system and other improvements in overall operation. Number 50 on the list is Tropical Smoothie Coffee.
While being at the bottom of the list might seem disappointing, being in the top 50 list is probably Great news for Tropical Smoothie Cafe, as it indicates the aggressive expansion plans. In addition, the menu is well suited to fast food breakfast wars that Foursquare predicts among the best QSRs in the country. Personally, I had never heard of Tropical Smoothie Cafe until a new location opened in my neighborhood, and now I have a smoothie there every few weeks. It’s kind of an easy place to plug into your daily routine if you’re looking to spend less than $ 10 on lunch.
Here are the top 10 QSRs of the loyalty index:
2. Dunkin ‘
6. Sonic Drive-In
7. Domino’s Pizza
9. Pizza Hut
ten. Papa John Pizza
Readers, start your arguments!