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Food Quality Trumps Convenience In Fast Food Franchising

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 7/8/2014

Consumer Reports study shows that consumers are willing to drive further to patronize fast food restaurants with higher quality food items.

Location, location, location. It's a mantra of small business and in some cases, has been touted as one of the reasons why franchises fail. But for the nation's fast food franchises, location may not be nearly as important as food quality, according to a study by Consumer Reports.

Fast Casual Food Quality Study recently reported that survey respondents are primarily concerned about seeking out quality food choices--and that convenient locations are only a secondary concern when it comes to choosing a fast food restaurant. As a result, McDonald's finished last in the burger category and KFC finished last in the chicken category--signs that consumer demand may be shifting away from franchisors that previously dominated the fast food market.

The top five results in each food category included:


  1. The Habit Burger Grill
  2. In-N-Out Burger
  3. Five Guys
  4. Smashburger
  5. Fuddruckers

Sandwiches and Subs

  1. Portillo's Hot Dogs
  2. Firehouse Subs
  3. Schlotzsky's
  4. Jason's Deli
  5. McAlisters


  1. Chick-fil-A
  2. El Pollo Loco
  3. Popeyes
  4. Boston Market
  5. Bojangles


  1. Chipotle
  2. Rubio's
  3. Qdoba
  4. Baja Fresh
  5. Moe's Southwest Grill

Millennials appear to be the driving force behind the shift. Industry experts, including Technomic's EVP Darrent Tristano, point out that younger consumers prefer customized meal concepts--options that are typically not offered by large QSR chains.

Additionally, MIllenial consumers are more in-tune with the quality and freshness of ingredients, which is another area in which large fast food franchises have fallen short. "(McDonald's), which serves flash-frozen patties made with 100-percent USDA-inspected beef, touts them as free from ?'preservatives, fillers, extenders, and so-called pink slime.' Such a pledge might be comforting, but it's hardly a rousing endorsement," said Consumer Reports.

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