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McDonald's generated the highest percentage of QSR customer visits in the past month, and by far.

A look at the most frequent QSR customers and what drives their frequency

New data from YouGov finds that nearly 9% of consumers visit QSRs 15-plus times a month and 57% of them are 25-to-44 years old.

Consumer spending is clearly starting to soften at eating and drinking places, as evidenced by preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau showing that such sales in May were $93.6 billion, or a 0.4% decline from April and the lowest monthly sales volume since October 2023. Amid a slowing environment, which also includes continued negative traffic, it's important to know who your most frequent customers are and what is driving their frequency in the first place. YouGov’s new Quick Service Restaurant Report 2024 takes a look at who is eating at quick-service restaurants most and the results may not be all that surprising. The most frequent QSR customers – “frequent” defined by 15-plus visits per month – are between the ages of 25 and 44 (57%), and 50% of them have children under the age of 18. The data is based on 5,000 respondents ages 18 to 64 who purchased from a QSR restaurant at least once in the month preceding the survey.


Nearly 9% of QSR customers order at least 15 times a month and 56% of those frequent customers are male. Customers who visit at least five times a month are also mostly male (53%), while once monthlies are 50/50 men and women. The most frequent visitors are 25-34 years old, followed closely by 35-44 year olds.

The most frequent QSR consumers live in the south, including those that visit at least once a month to those who visit 15-plus times a month. Nearly 40% of Southern consumers visit a QSR at least once a month. Same for those who visit at least 15 times a month. By comparison, 22% of Northeast consumers visit 15-plus times a month, while 13% of Midwesterners do the same.

Nearly 60% of frequent QSR consumers live in an urban market, while 48% of urban consumers and 41% of suburban consumers visit five-plus times monthly. For those who visit once a month, the urban/suburban divide is pretty even, at 42% and 43%, respectively.

Households with two adults and children under 18 are the most frequent QSR visitors; 42% of those who live with another adult/adults and a child under 18 visit at least 15 times a month, while 40% visit at least five times monthly and 36% visit once a month. This is compared to 14%, 13%, and 17%, respectively, for those who live alone.

Frequent QSR customers have higher incomes than the average American; 28% who buy 15-plus times monthly have a gross household income exceeding $150,000. For context, just 8% of the general population has this household income. The highest percentage of low-income consumers (34%), or those earning less than $50,000, visit QSRs about once monthly, perhaps reiterating some pullback among these consumers, as has been reported in recent quarters.

QSR motivators

The YouGov survey strived to find the “why” behind consumers’ QSR habits, asking what influenced their purchasing decision. It found that taste (49%), speed (47%), and convenience (45%) are the biggest motivators, followed by affordability (35%) and quality (31%).

These factors, however, change depending on occasion. Most customers who want breakfast are looking for convenience, for instance, while 32% actually bought breakfast from a QSR because it was affordable.

Most late-night customers and after-dinner customers want speed, but they’re motivated by craving and affordability, respectively. Mid-morning snack customers want taste and make the purchase because of affordability, while lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and dinner customers want taste and are motivated by cravings.  

That said, consumers are also looking for staff friendliness and healthy options, especially at breakfast. Across dayparts, QSR customers made their most recent purchase based on satisfying a craving (35%), affordability (34%), quality (28%), great deals (25%), and treating themselves (25%). For those who visit 15 or more times a month, they’re more likely to purchase from brands that are top of mind (33%) and that make them feel comfortable (38%). Satisfying a craving (40%) is also a critical driver of frequent consumers.  

How QSR consumers order

For frequent QSR guests, the drive-thru has proven it is king; 30% made their last purchase at a drive-thru, while 27% ordered delivery. Twenty-five percent ordered at the counter. Perhaps surprisingly, given their increasing presence, just 7% of frequent QSR consumers ordered from a kiosk in the past month. Unsurprisingly, however, consumers said they are least satisfied with kiosk ordering.

Notably, drive-thrus are also the preferred ordering method for once/monthly visitors (33%) and five-plus times/monthly (31%).

Brand affinities

Chains that generated the highest percentage of customer visits in the past month include:

  1. McDonald’s, 56%

McDonald’s is ranked No. 1 across all age groups, indicating its broad appeal, convenience and ubiquity. On that latter piece, McDonald’s ranks No. 1 for top-of-mind awareness, at 21.9%, well ahead of KFC at No. 2, with 10%. McDonald’s also ranked No. 1 – and by far – for convenience (23.9% versus No. 2 Burger King, at 8.7%), taste (21.5%), and speed (21.7%). McDonald’s also outpaces every other brand for “fits my lifestyle” (22.2%), high quality (22.8%), and innovative (25.9%). McDonald’s also holds the top spot for all dayparts except mid-morning snack, which is held by Starbucks.

  1. Burger King, 32%

Burger King ranks second overall. It is ranked the highest among those 35-54 years old, while its ranking drops to fourth among younger consumers, and fifth for those older than 55.

  1. Taco Bell, 29%

At third overall, Taco Bell ranks much lower among younger consumers (sixth) than it does those 35-64, perhaps surprisingly given its strong marketing presence and menu innovations such as the Cheez-It Crunchwrap.

  1. KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, 27% each

This three-way tie is actually quite disparate among age groups. KFC indexes high for customers 18-34, signaling that the company’s efforts to provide more boneless, portable options that appeal to younger consumers are paying off. KFC drops to ninth for those 45-54 years of age.

Starbucks, meanwhile, is third among 25-to-34 year olds, and fifth for those 18-24 and 35-44, but drops to ninth for the oldest demographic surveyed. Pizza Hut ranks third among the youngest consumers and 12th for the oldest.

  1. Wendy’s, 25%

Wendy’s strongest demographic, by far, is the 55-to-64 year-old range.

  1. Chick-fil-A, 24%

Chick-fil-A is relatively steady across all age groups, gradually increasing frequency among the older demographics. Chick-fil-A overindexes for friendliness and quality.

  1. Subway, 22%
  2. Dunkin’, 14%

Subway and Dunkin’ are also mostly consistent across age groups.

  1. Popeyes, 12%
  2. Sonic, 11%
  3. Arby’s, 10%

Jack in the Box, Whataburger, Five Guys, Jersey Mike’s, In-N-Out, Jimmy John’s, Del Taco, Hardee’s, Church’s, and Carl’s Jr. round out the top 23 brands measured, each in the single digits for visit frequency among consumers surveyed.

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

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