Market research agency and mystery shopping company, SeeLevel HX, has released its 20th annual QSR Drive-Thru study, a breakdown of drive-thru performance from 10 major quick-service brands: Arby’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’, Hardee’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s. The study also ranks each brand in four categories, including taste quality.
The study, which was compiled from restaurant visits during the COVID-19 pandemic from June through August, reflected how well restaurant brands responded to the challenges of the pandemic.
Taco Bell and Wendy’s, for example, both dropped significantly in overall taste rankings. Lisa van Kesteren, CEO of of SeeLevel HX said in an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News that the changes in Wendy’s rankings could have been contributed, at least in part, to their beef supply chain issues during the pandemic.
Other brands fared significantly better, like Dunkin’, which has crept up the ranks in the taste categories over the past few years, as the brand began to focus on menu innovation, with new items like improved espresso drinks and plant-based breakfast sandwiches. The company also came out with new beverage innovations like boba tea, while other brands were cutting back and trimming menus.
Read on to find out where each brand ranked in terms of taste and food quality.
Participants in the study ordered food through the drive-thru at locations of each of the chains studied across the country between June and August 2020. 1,490 total quick-service drive-thru visits were made, with most orders (54.8%) taking place during lunch hours.