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Survey: All-day breakfast helps McDonald’s brand perception

McDonald's perception is now highest among QSRs, according to YouGov BrandIndex

McDonald’s Corp’s introduction of all-day breakfast appears poised to pull the restaurant out of its three-year funk, at least according to the latest consumer survey from YouGov BrandIndex.

The chain’s perception among adults surged in September to its highest level since 2013 and is now the highest among all quick-service restaurants concepts, according to the survey of 22,000 adults.

The results bode well for McDonald’s and its efforts to turn sales, which have been lagging for three years.

“We are seeing several of their metrics moving up significantly, both in the general population and among those who eat out for breakfast at least once a month,” said Ted Marzilli, CEO of YouGov, a brand perception research service. “That’s good news. All-day breakfast seems to be off to a good start. It’s resonating with consumers.”

The YouGov report comes on top of another survey, this one of teenagers, published earlier this month by PiperJaffray — which showed improvement in McDonald’s perception among teens.

McDonald’s had the second highest perception among teenagers behind Starbucks Corp. and ahead of Chipotle Mexican Grill. In the spring, Piper’s “Taking Stock With Teens” survey had Chipotle in the No. 2 spot, with McDonald’s at No. 3.

Both results also demonstrate that McDonald’s remains a powerhouse among consumers, even as it has lost market share to competitors.

Breakfast is a primary driver of McDonald’s recent perception improvement. YouGov’s survey includes 22,000 adults 18 and over, including 7,000 frequent breakfast eaters.

Among those consumers, who eat breakfast from once a month to two times a day, McDonald’s perception surged 17 points since the beginning of August. YouGov’s scores are measured on a scale from -100 to 100, based on whether more consumers have a positive or negative perception of a concept.

McDonald’s current “Buzz” score among breakfast eaters is 16, meaning 16 percent more breakfast eaters had a positive perception of McDonald’s than negative. That score is also 10 points higher than the average quick-service chain chain, according to YouGov.

Buzz is a key measure, in that it measures what consumers are hearing about the brand from advertising and for word of mouth. Buzz scores, Marzilli said, correlate with increases in consideration and with sales.

“McDonald’s invests a lot of money in advertising, promotion and marketing,” Marzilli said. “That this is a high point going back to 2013 does say something.”

The company’s general impression scores also surged, from a score of 12 in early August to 23 now, which is eight points higher than the quick-service restaurant average.

Consumers appear more willing to buy food from McDonald’s, the survey found. In early August, 39 percent of breakfast eaters said they’d consider McDonald’s the next time they ate quick-service food. In the latest survey, 46 percent said they’d consider McDonald’s — a wide gap of 31 points compared with the average quick-service chain.

Consideration “does not equal sales,” Marzilli cautioned, but to get sales a concept has to be first among the consideration set, and so the increase “is a good sign.” This result suggests that more breakfast consumers are considering McDonald’s now that it sells Egg McMuffins or biscuit sandwiches after 10:30 a.m.

But that number also demonstrates exactly how much of a powerhouse McDonald’s is in the morning among quick-service restaurant concepts — that even before all-day breakfast the chain easily outdistanced itself from competitors for the morning daypart.

It also explains why the chain decided to expand some of its products’ availability.

“They’re trying to take something that’s a strength of theirs and get some leverage out of it,” Marzilli said.

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter at @jonathanmaze

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