Opinion: Love in a hurry

As other brands embrace the convenience offered by quick service, it will be intriguing to see if QSR chains continue to prosper, says Will Blackett, executive vice president of Savanta.

They say you shouldn’t rush to find love, but with more quick service restaurants (QSR) featuring more prominently in the top 10 of this year’s BrandVue’s Most Loved Eating Out Brands than any other restaurant category, it seems speedy service is a fast track to our hearts. Beloved favourites KFC (number four), Domino’s (six ) and Subway (eight ) have all climbed one to two places since last year, reinforcing their top 10 positions. Looking into the top 20, Burger King (17) has also moved up in the table since 2022. German Doner Kebab has dropped year-on-year (down three), but has retained its status as a Top 20 brand.

The quick-service grandmaster McDonald’s remains the Most Loved Eating Out Brand for an outstanding fifth year in a row. But how does the seasoned veteran stay at number one in the face of fresh competition each year?

Switching up every six weeks or so, McDonald’s menu regularly sees new additions, while also temporarily removing the part-time products, building up demand for them all over again. Frequent, big ad campaigns also helps the golden arches brand stay top of mind. Recently we saw popular presenter Maya Jama front a TV spot to launch the McCrispy Chicken Burger. Not long after, the Love Island host proved her authenticity as a brand ambassador, sharing on Instagram a £40 receipt from her 4am McDonald’s takeaway.

Some of the highest climbers in this year’s overall Most Loved Eating Out Top 100 are QSR brands. At 38, Chicken Cottage has risen eight places year-on-year, while Wok&Go has climbed an astounding 22, pushing the noodle bar up to 52nd place.

So, why are QSRs thriving? Perhaps, now that the slower pace of living during the pandemic is becoming a distant memory, we want a service that can keep up with our fast lifestyles. But also, as consumers face a higher cost of living, QSR brands provide the perfect mix of fast, convenient, comforting food at affordable prices. McDonald’s and Burger King have both launched loyalty schemes, gifting free burgers for reward points – perhaps taking inspiration from grab-and-go specialists like Greggs and Costa.

In turn, other brands are trying to take their own slice of QSR market share. An example we’re catching wind of is opening drive-through outlets. The upmarket bakery brand Gail’s, debuting high in our league table at 24, is reportedly considering roadside dining. Meanwhile, Five Guys and Leon have also made this move in recent years.

As other brands embrace the convenience offered by quick service, it will be intriguing to see if QSR chains continue to sit at the head of our league table across 2024.

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