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FAQs for the Consumer Picks Report methodology

Everything you need to know about this year’s ranking

What is the Consumer Picks research and selection methodology?

Nation’s Restaurant News re-tooled its Consumer Picks report in 2017 and introduced Datassential as its research partner. For Consumer Picks, NRN is now utilizing Datassential’s BrandFingerprints data. Datassential surveys 30,000 consumers via an online panel in both the winter and summer seasons. The data shown in the NRN Consumer Picks report reflect surveys from summer of 2017 and the winter of 2016, with the sample balanced to the general population within the four U.S. Census Regions. 

The survey includes both open-ended questions and closed-ended questions. Here is an example of an opened-ended question: “Which sit-down/quick-service chain restaurants first comes to mind when you feel like having something new and interesting?”

Each surveyed consumer, or “panelist,” is then asked about their visitation habit for 40 chains located in their metropolitan statistical area, or MSA.  The MSA lists of chains include brands based on number of units. A responding ‘panelist’s’ list of chains visited within the past year is then randomly narrowed down to two brands, about which the panelist is asked deeper closed-ended questions. An example of such a closed-ended question might be, “The very last time you visited [CHAIN], did you do so because you…?  -Are a loyal customer; you go there because you really like that place, not just because it’s convenient (or)  -Went there primarily because it’s convenient; you don’t really consider yourself loyal to that place.

It is from the answers to such closed-ended, brand-specific questions that the study-anchoring loyalty scores are generated. The responses to the open-ended, at-large questions are utilized for “Brand Awareness” presentations. 

Why wasn’t my chain included?

The chains included in the Consumer Picks report were those mentioned by consumers surveyed in the manner explained above, with a sample of roughly 700 responses to ensure a representative sample.

What Consumer Picks changes might be in store for next year?

Datassential reviews the list of chains surveyed for BrandFingerprints annually.  With the Spring 2018 survey, Datassential will also be increasing its sample size, which will help to bring in more chains. 

With that said, however, due to balancing the sample by census region, it can be harder to gain the sample size needed to include regional chains. For example, with the current sample, if a chain’s units are mainly in the Northeast Region, the sample Datassential is going to be using will be roughly a quarter of the 30,000 sample.

Why balance by regions?

 Any survey that has sound methodology will be balanced to the general population. This means that if your sample is 100 (for example) you will want to ensure that you survey 13 consumers that are over the age of 65 since they represent 13% of the US population. Datassential would not want to have a sample size of 36 for consumers over the age or 65 as the data would be skewed to an older consumer and not balanced. Due to Datassential’s sample of 30,000 consumers, it has enough sample to go a step further and balance within the census regions. This makes the data even more reliable.

To find about more detailed information about the data, contact [email protected]


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