The fast food industry has an average Brand Intimacy Quotient of 35.1, below the cross-industry average of 38.3. Chick-fil-A remains in first place, and Starbucks has moved up to second place. Dunkin’ and Taco Bell have improved their performance, whereas McDonald’s, Subway, and Dominos have declined.
The fast food industry ranks sixth this year, the same position as in our last study. The industry increased its average Quotient Score by 3.2 percent. Fast food continues to perform better with men than with women and with younger versus older consumers. More than 32 percent of consumers have an increased positive emotional connection with fast food brands since our 2020 COVID study.
The fast food category has had to weather significant supply chain challenges over the course of the pandemic, but Brand Intimacy performance for the industry has increased by 8 percent on average since before the pandemic, mirroring the business opportunities that brands have capitalized on. Despite the hardships imposed by COVID on people and businesses, this period has actually drawn consumers closer to brands and created stronger emotional relationships.
The fast food industry continues to perform better than the cross-industry average for the indulgence and nostalgia archetypes. The industry also improved its performance in fulfillment, identity, and ritual, and it largely maintained the same archetype strengths as in our previous study. The category continues to underperform compared to the cross-industry average in all three stages of intimacy. Sharing has declined 14 percent, but bonding and fusing have both risen.
Indulgence remains the dominant industry archetype. Out of all 10 industries, fast food leads in indulgence. Daily usage has increased 8 percent, which suggests many consumers continue to enjoy fast food as restaurants and dining options are more available across the country. Compared to our previous COVID study, the willingness to pay 20 percent more for fast food products and services increased by 43 percent.
Comparing the top two fast food brands, Chick-fil-A shows stronger associations with fulfillment. Meanwhile, Starbucks performs better in all the other archetypes, notably ritual. Chick-fil-A leads in the first and last stages of intimacy—sharing and fusing—and ties Starbucks in bonding.
* This is a ranked sub-brand. We share its industry performance. Given its similar profile, see parent brand for overall ranking.