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A new white paper released by market research firm Technomic reveals what consumers think about leading restaurant brands' advertising efforts. As reported in "Perceptions of Restaurant Advertising: Consumer Assessments of the Leading Chain Brands" restaurant brands are measured on three attributes related to advertising:

  • Has memorable advertising.
  • Has advertising I can relate to.
  • Has advertising that makes me hungry.

Highlights from the research include:

  • Overall, the restaurant industry is connecting with consumers' stomachs (Advertising that makes me hungry), but most restaurants receive lower ratings from consumers on Advertising I can relate to and Has memorable advertising, signaling an opportunity for restaurant marketers to build brand equity with new creative work that supplements purely promotional messaging.
  • The top 10 performers on an average composite score of these three attributes are five quick-service restaurants and five casual dining restaurant chains, with fast casual and midscale chains (and their smaller advertising budgets) falling further down the list. The highest ranked chains are Subway, Olive Garden, SONIC Drive-In, Red Lobster and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
  • Subway leads all other restaurant chains measured on an average composite score of these three attributes. A key factor in Subway's success can be attributed to the use of "Famous Fans" and real-life spokesman, Jared Fogle. Featuring athletes who are authentic brand advocates and an every-day-guy on a "Subway diet" created very memorable and relatable advertising campaigns.

"The challenge for operators is to develop messages that resonate with consumers through a variety of advertising channels," said Darren Tristano, EVP, Technomic. "It's important for restaurant operators and advertising agencies to know which brands are most effectively connecting with consumers in a crowded media landscape."

Technomic monitors consumers' brand perceptions with its online Consumer Brand Metrics tool which includes consumer assessments of 120 leading restaurant brands on more than 60 attributes, 13 of which are related to brand image, brand fit and customer loyalty. The consumer feedback is based on ongoing data collection and compiled from a nationally representative sample of more than 130,000 consumer restaurant visits to date.

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