NEW YORK, N.Y. – Industries are transformed by the changing lifestyles of their consumers, and the restaurant industry is no exception. As busy American schedules tighten, consumers continue to look for away-from-home options that best fit their tastes, time and budgets. The 2015 Harris Poll EquiTrend® study looks at 66 restaurant brands across a variety of formats, from quick serve to sit-down dining, gauging three key components of Brand Equity: Familiarity, Quality and Consideration.
On the whole, the study measures the Brand Equity of more than 1,400 brands across 148 categories. You can find the full list of top-ranked brands across all categories here.
In-N-Out Burger Earns Its First Brand of the Year Award
In-N-Out Burger, privately held and with restaurants in only five US states, leads the Burger Restaurant category this year. The brand surpassed large national chains and regional players alike to take home top honors in the category. In-N-Out Burger owes its success this year to increases in both Familiarity and Consideration, while maintaining a strong Quality score.
“The competitive landscape has been changing in the quick service restaurant industry, with smaller players doing fewer things than their larger competitors and doing them very well,” says Joan Sinopoli, Vice President of Brand Solutions for Harris Poll. Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Culver’s, Wendy’s, Steak ‘n Shake, Sonic America’s Drive-In, Burger King, McDonald’s, and DQ Grill & Chill also rank above the Burger Restaurant category average.
Chick-fil-A Retains Top Honors as the Chicken Restaurant Brand of the Year
With roots in the south, Chick-fil-A has grown considerably over time, now operating in 42 states, and is the largest chicken chain restaurant in the country based on sales. On the strength of high Quality and Consideration ratings, Chick-fil-A is the Chicken Restaurant Brand of the Year for the second straight year. “Chick-fil-A has redefined what ‘fast food’ chicken is about, carving out a true alternative to burgers,” Sinopoli says.
Subway Claims Another Brand of the Year Title
Subway earns the Sandwich Shop Brand of the Year for the second year in a row by maintaining their strong Familiarity and Consideration marks. “Subway continues to offer healthy, fresh, and customizable options, with marketing campaigns consistently conveying this message,” Sinopoli says. Panera Bread also ranks above the Sandwich Shop category average.
Pizza Hut and Chipotle Receive Brand of the Year Titles for Third Consecutive Year
Pizza Hut has been Brand of the Year in the Pizza Chain category since 2013 on the strength of its Familiarity and Consideration scores. “Pizza Hut has been able to stay ahead of the curve with a focus on smart promotions and competitive pricing, without harming their Brand Equity,” says Sinopoli. Papa John’s Pizza also ranks above the Pizza Chain category average.
With a significant increase in Brand Equity this year, Chipotle retains the lead in the Fast Casual Mexican category. Chipotle holds the Brand of the Year title for the third year in a row, thanks to notable increases on already-strong Quality and Familiarity measures. Qdoba Mexican Grill also ranks above the Fast Casual Mexican category average.
Krispy Kreme Enters the Brand of the Year Ranks
For the first time, Krispy Kreme is named Coffee & Quick Serve Restaurant Brand of the Year. Both the Familiarity and Quality measures show significant year-over-year gains for the brand. Starbucks Coffee Shops, Einstein Bros Bagels, and Dunkin’ Donuts Stores also rank above the Coffee & Quick Service category average.
Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill Earn First-Ever Brand of the Year Awards
Outback Steakhouse has shown steady improvement in Brand Equity over the past three years, reaching the top of the Casual Dining Restaurant category this year. Outback Steakhouse leads on the strength of its Quality and Consideration scores, posting significant gains over time. “Outback Steakhouse maintains a positive, differentiated brand image while continuing to build their stronghold in their corner of the market,” says Sinopoli. IHOP, LongHorn Steakhouse, Applebee’s, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Red Lobster Seafood Restaurants also rank above the Casual Dining Restaurant category average.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill edged out previous awardees Maggiano’s Little Italy Restaurant and Olive Garden Italian Restaurants to claim the top spot in the Italian Dining category. Carrabba’s takes the lead with strong Familiarity and Consideration scores. “Carrabba’s has been consistently providing an authentic Italian menu with high quality and competitive prices,” says Sinopoli. Olive Garden Italian Restaurants and Maggiano’s Little Italy Restaurant also rank above the Italian Dining category average.
Harris Poll EquiTrend® Methodology
A sample of 38,670 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over were surveyed online from January 8 through February 2, 2015 and the survey took an average of 30 minutes to complete. The total number of brands rated was 1,410. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 40 randomly selected brands. Each brand received approximately 1,000 ratings. Data were weighted to be representative of the entire U.S. population of consumers ages 15 and over based on age by sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, income, and data from respondents ages 18 and over were also weighted for their propensity to be online. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
The Brand Equity Index is the keystone to the EquiTrend program, providing an understanding of a brand’s overall strength. A brand’s Equity is determined by a calculation of Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration. Brand of the Year is determined by a simple ranking of brands.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
Harris Poll EquiTrend® study results disclosed in this release may not be used for advertising, marketing or promotional purposes without the prior written consent of Harris Poll.
Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
Over the last 5 decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. The Harris Poll EquiTrend® Brand Equity Study benchmarks the bonds between brands and consumers, annually recognizing the highest ranked brands in each category using an academically vetted brand equity model with elements like familiarity, quality, and purchase consideration. Contact us for more information.