A survey conducted by consultancy group Brand Keys, as part of its Loyalty Engagement Index, shows that Domino's Pizza creates the most "customer delight."
For the 29 brands tracked in Brand Keys' restaurants category, attributes relating to "healthy choices" and "brand value" exerted the strongest impact on customer decision-making, category expectations and engagement. The top brands include:
- Dunkin' Donuts
- Papa John's
- Ruby Tuesday
Domino's has had a strong year-and-a-half after revamping its entire recipe, complemented by a saturated marketing campaign with the tagline "Oh Yes We Did." The company's efforts came after it asked its customers to air grievances about the quality of its product. Domino's has also launched new cheesy bread, chicken items and an Artisan pizza line.
"Consumer expectations have been accelerating for some time," said Robert Passikoff, founder and president, Brand Keys. "Many pundits have looked at the pressures of price and drew the erroneous conclusion that brands have lost their value. Quite the opposite is true: Real brands are more valuable than ever."
He added that brands that lack "meaningful differentiation" are the most affected by economic and behavioral shifts.
"Given the levels of commoditization we've witness in product/services and pricing/promotion strategies, it's no surprise consumers are looking to strong brands to offer a difference. Consumers know the brands, know what they do, and know what they're willing to pay," Passikoff said.
Pizza category for loyalty
Brand Keys also measured the top pizza brands for customer loyalty (among other segments such as gasoline, hotels, insurance, computers, online retailers, search engines and smartphones).
The 16th annual national survey identifies brands that are best able to engage consumers by meeting or exceeding their expectations, therefore creating loyalty.
Brand Keys' Customer Loyalty Engagement Index recognizes brands that receive the highest loyalty and engagement assessments and surpass competitors for "delighting" customers.
The top pizza brands were:
- Domino's/Papa John's (tied)
- Pizza Hut
- Round Table
- Chuck E. Cheese's
- Little Caesars
Coffee, QSR, casual dining categories
Dunkin' Donuts customers are the most loyal in the crowded coffee category. This is the sixth straight year Dunkin' Donuts has ranked on top.
The Massachusetts-based company beat Starbucks, McDonald's, and Tim Hortons.
The Golden Arches, however, tied with Subway to top the quick-service restaurants' category, followed by Wendy's, KFC, Burger King, Hardee's, Quiznos and Taco Bell.
In the coffee category, consumer preferences were based on consistently meeting customer expectations for taste, quality, service and brand value.
Dunkin' Donuts also finished on top for the packaged coffee category, tying with Starbucks.
For casual dining, Ruby Tuesday came out on top, followed by Outback, Chili's, Olive Garden, IHOP/Red Lobster (tie), TGI Friday's and Hooters/Applebee's (tie).
Also of note, soft drink consumers are most loyal to Coca-Cola, with Diet Coke on top of the lower-calorie category.
Sam Adams and Coors have the most loyal beer drinking fans. Patron is the favorite among tequila fans, while Grey Goose is the top vodka.
Finally, social networking consumers gravitate loyally to Facebook the most. This is followed, in order, by YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, GooglePlus, MySpace, Yelp, Four Square, Flickr and Quora.
For the 2012 survey, nearly 50,000 consumers, ages 18 to 65, were interviewed.
Read more about trends and statistics.