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Consumer Picks

From the editor: What's your secret sauce?

Welcome to your guide to the consumers’ innermost thoughts, at least their thoughts pertaining to restaurants.

Nation’s Restaurant News is proud to present the seventh annual Consumer Picks report. Developed in partnership with market research firm Datassential, the report ranks 126 chains by True Loyalty, or consumers’ desire to visit each brand. Since the ranking crosses all segments, the report is a comprehensive look at the restaurant world. This ranking takes the convenience factor out of the equation and boils down which restaurants customers love to go to.

It should be noted, that in an industry that is highly focused on adapting new technologies, the number one brand for True Loyalty has had a fairly consistent model over the last seven decades. Technology plays an important role in the restaurant space, but it’s not everything. See how In-N-Out Burger maintains its focus — and its cult status — in an ever-changing market.

How about consumer mindshare? Which restaurants are buried deep in the consumer consciousness? When consumers feel like having a great burger, which chain restaurant comes to mind? Turns out that it’s Burger King and McDonald’s for the majority. Find out which brands diners think of first when they want French fries, sandwiches, chicken nuggets or a variety of other menu items.

Consumers also weighed in on the top restaurants for Service, Craveability, Food Quality, Ambience, Limited-Time Offers and Value. It’s not surprising that many of the winners in these categories also rank highly in the overall True Loyalty ranking.

As you read through the report, think about what your brand’s secret sauce really is. Then never lose sight of it.


Datassential surveyed 30,000 consumers online in both the winter and summer seasons. The data here reflect surveys from the summer of 2017 and the winter of 2016. The survey sample is balanced to the general population and by region. Each respondent is asked for visitation habits for 40 chains located in their metro areas, then asked additional questions on perceptions of chains they have visited.

Explore the full report >>


Jenna Telesca, Editor-in-Chief

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jennatelesca

The Consumer Picks data was developed by Datassential, a food industry market research company. For more detailed or customized data, contact [email protected]

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