Between the Battle of the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and One-Cent Burgers: Here’s How Marketers Need to Adapt to Win Consumer Hearts in the QSR Wars

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Consumers are getting busier and old habits have evolved to reflect new lifestyle changes. This is represented across all aspects of life – whether it’s new shopping or eating preferences, consumers have shown a growing desire for something in particular: convenience.

As a result, many Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) brands have adapted by offering online ordering for easy in-store pickup and sending promotional deals and discounts via mobile. As these consumer patterns continue, QSR marketers will need to adapt strategies that utilize mobile more easily and appeal to the always-on consumer.

QSR’s are expected to grow 4.6% globally by 2022 – highlighting the growing desire for fast food options worldwide. In a recent study, Blis looked at real-world intelligence – actual consumer behavior versus what is simply observed, to better understand the state of the QSR market today. The report – which analyzed data from the UK, US, Australia, and Singapore – revealed competitive threat levels, audience loyalty and key visiting patterns for QSR establishments around the world (including varying trends from region-to-region).

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Americans were able to prove their loyalty, with 57% staying true to their favorite brands. QSR marketers have taken notice of this fierce commitment in the US, creating Marketing stunts to attract audiences, like the Popeyes “Chicken Wars” and the One-Cent Whopper that took the Internet by storm. And while these stunts garnered media and consumer interest initially, they were largely short-lived. These attention-grabbers proved that while stunts can raise brand awareness, QSR marketers are still lacking a true understanding of how to appeal to the broader consumer – not just brand loyalists.

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Blis’ report also revealed the following US trends within QSR:

  • Americans tend to be more loyal to their favorite restaurants when compared to other regions.
  • McDonald’s leads the way, with 62% brand exclusivity (vs selected brands of burgers, chicken, sandwiches, pizza and other options), followed closely by Subway at 61%.
  • KFC saw the highest crossover with other burger restaurants, highlighting a potential opportunity to appeal to consumers with more burger-focused options.

QSR brands are still missing the mark when it comes to appealing to a growing and changing audience. The truth is, consumers’ evolving preferences are particular to their national origins, but the desire for convenience and personalization via mobile is a common global trend. Marketers need to start changing the way they position QSR brands, or be at risk of losing out on key audiences.

Many QSR brands have found themselves at a crossroads: having moved beyond the need to maintain loyalty, and shifting strategies to stand out in an overly saturated market with intense competition. By utilizing real-world insights, marketers have a greater opportunity to not only maintain their growing customer base but attract new audiences they likely wouldn’t have before.

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