Quick Service Restaurant Visitors Come for the Food, Not the Atmosphere

Jan 3, 2017

For many of us, Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) are a consistent part of daily routine. Whether you’re looking for a solid lunch option during the workday, or a quick dinner for your busy family, QSRs are often the best solution for an easy, affordable, and tasty meal. We’ve already learned what it takes for QSRs to prove the freshness of their offerings to Millennials and Gen Z; but how do they go about encouraging loyalty? Employing market research to gain a better understanding of why consumers frequent a QSR and how key trends impact their decision is just the first step for any QSR brand looking to fulfill the needs of their target audience—and hopefully earn their repeated patronage in return.

The Research

In order to find out what drives QSR loyalty and which restaurants best deliver on today’s important attributes, we recruited males and females from 18–65 years old who are aware of at least eight different QSR brands to participate in an Agile Attitudes & UsageTM* study. We split our sample between frequent and infrequent visitors, and our quantitative research relied on a scorecard evaluation of current QSR attributes based on the following metrics:

  • Likelihood to Motivate a Visit
  • Uniqueness
  • Driver of Loyalty
  • Added Value
  • Representation of Improvement Over Current Options
  • Personal Relevance

The Results

Taste Reigns Supreme

Among both frequent and infrequent visitors, taste was the most important driver in both Likelihood to Motivate a Visit and Loyalty. In fact, the main drivers of loyalty among frequent visitors were all related to food: quality and price were the next highest on attributes named.


Meanwhile—as demonstrated by the chart above—infrequent visitors turned out to be more highly motivated by the QSR atmosphere, ranking more intangible qualities like staff friendliness and cleanliness higher than frequent visitors did.

And Families Appreciate Feeling Welcome

Though the concept of a family-friendly atmosphere was ranked rather low by both groups as a driver of loyalty, it certainly made a difference among households with children, particularly those younger than 10 years old. This is keeping with our hypothesis that the modern family is frequently in need of quick, inexpensive meals. And though it did not drive the same amount of loyalty among visitors without children, those respondents did not answer adversely. Below are the QSR brands most associated with a family-friendly atmosphere, with traditional, well-known chains leading the pack.

The differing drivers of loyalty and visits among frequent and infrequent QSR patrons helped to reveal which priorities impact their mealtime decisions. Check out the report summary below for more valuable consumer insights into how individuals and families develop loyalties and habits around QSRs, including

  • How motivated respondents are by specific QSR attributes, including drive-thrus and online ordering
  • Overall respondent interest in and awareness of healthier food options
  • The likelihood of a family-friendly atmosphere to drive loyalty
  • What respondents like most about their favorite QSRs, and what they believe could be improved upon

*An Agile Attitudes & Usage study is an online quantitative study used to explore consumer attitudes, usages, habits, practices, and behaviors. Survey clicks are balanced to population level data on age, gender, and region to ensure a natural fallout of the sample.

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