STUDY: Less than Half of QSR Chicken Brand Customers are Highly Satisfied with Overall Experience

Empathica’s 2013 QSR Benchmark data reveals brands in the QSR chicken segment have a huge opportunity to improve overall experience and customer perception of value.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – December 19, 2013 — Empathica Inc., a Mindshare Technologies company, releases today the chicken brand findings from its 2013 Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Benchmark Study, which surveyed 10,000 U.S. consumers on their satisfaction rates for service, taste, value and other factors (including social media engagement and loyalty) across QSR segments.

The study found that many QSR chicken brands are struggling to satisfy customers, with a market average high satisfaction rate of only 44 percent.

The top three brands in the segment achieving overall satisfaction rates at 50 percent or above:

  • Chick-fil-A (62 percent)
  • Wingstop (55 percent)
  • El Pollo Loco (50 percent)

“QSR chicken brands have a major disparity between market leaders and those performing below market average, with overall satisfaction rates ranging from 28 to 62 percent across brands,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Mindshare Technologies. “Getting to a deeper understanding of the experience from the viewpoint of the customer is critical to determine where improvements can be made – and which improvements will have the highest impact. From what QSR chicken customers are saying, there is a major opportunity for these brands to drive significant improvements in the experience they are providing to stand out from the crowd.”

Findings show that only 47 percent of customers are highly likely to return to or re-order from a QSR chicken brand based on their overall experience. Customer satisfaction rates are highest when ordering carry out (44 percent), followed by drive thru (42 percent) and dine in (36 percent).

“Interestingly, customers of QSR chicken brands scored the dine in experience the lowest of all of the channels, but this is the area where brands have the greatest opportunity to make a positive impression on customers given the time they are spending in the location,” added Edwards. “Leading brands are taking the time to map the customer journey and understand the key ‘moments of truth’ during each experience, and determining where they can add the greatest value to separate themselves from the competition.”

Chick-fil-A leads the market, but demonstrates opportunity to improve in key demographic groups

Chick-fil-A customers are 42 percent more likely to be highly satisfied with their overall experience than the average QSR chicken brand customer. The brand also performs above all others for value, experience, likeliness to return and likeliness to be recommended on social media. Females are 10 percent more likely to be satisfied with Chick-fil-A than men, indicating room for the brand to grow in bringing a better experience to further their appeal to other demographics.

Customers choose brands for taste, but taste satisfaction ranks low for many brands

The study shows that the number one reason customers choose a QSR chicken brand is taste, however only 48 percent of customers stated that “food tasted great” when asked to rate their experience. The leading brands for highest percentage of customers highly satisfied with taste are Chick-fil-A (58 percent), Popeyes Louisiana Chicken (56 percent) and Zaxby’s (55 percent).

After “taste,” the reasons consumers choose different chicken QSRs vary a great deal by brand:

  • Boston Market, Chick-fil-A, Church’s Chicken and El Pollo Loco customers look for Menu choice
  • Bojangles, KFC, Wingstop and Zaxby’s customers choose based on the convenience of these locations
  • Popeyes Louisiana Chicken customers are driven by price

Customers aren’t happy with the value of QSR chicken brands

Findings show that customers want better value for their money, with only 37 percent of customers in this segment believing they receive good value for what they pay.

“It isn’t always about price when it comes to value,” comments Edwards. “In addition to great tasting chicken, speed, friendliness, taste, location, cleanliness, and menu choice all play a role in consumers’ perception of overall value. In order to deliver value in the eyes of the consumer, brands must understand which of these elements of service mean the most to their customers, in addition to great taste, and then elevate to a point of real differentiation in executing against them.”

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About the 2013 Empathica Quick Service Restaurant Benchmark Study:

The Empathica Quick Service Restaurant Benchmark Study launched in March 2013 and surveyed 10,000 US consumers on the top 62 QSR brands. The Benchmark measured food, order accuracy, speed of service, staff, value, cleanliness, atmosphere and menu for QSRs that customers had visited in the past 30 days. The survey also gathered the drivers behind loyalty for a QSR and for social media advocacy. Results, led by Dr. Gary Edwards and Empathica’s research team, were published in July 2013. The Benchmark has been weighted to reflect latest Census distributions in the U.S., including region, gender, age and income.

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