Communications Habits of the Fastest-Growing Quick Service Restaurant Chains

The Communications Habits
of the Fastest-Growing Quick Service Restaurant Brands

Key Takeaways

Four QSR brands are striking out with novel communications.

After analyzing hundreds of assets across the category, our StoryData™ results reveal four outlier brands: Chick-fil-A, Jersey Mike’s, Taco Bell, and Panera Bread. Chick-fil-A tells the most emotional and consumer-centric stories; Jersey Mike’s doubles down on identity with distinctive logo, slogan, and end card placements; Taco Bell leads with product innovation; and Panera Bread distinguishes itself as the “100% clean” fast-casual option.

The majority of QSR brand stories are product-focused.

In terms of creative execution, the language and imagery of most QSR ads cluster around product features. Though product demonstrations deliver important information, they do not help build long-term brand equity. Overall, there is a huge opportunity for QSR brands to tell more emotional stories that address consumer beliefs and cultural touchpoints, which will help create more mental brand equity — a leading input to long-term growth. The category currently trades by exploiting existing brand equity, which is a growth-limiting strategy over time.

Three kinds of words dominate QSR video ads.

Using natural language processing to identify the top words used by the category, we see three themes emerge: ingredients, flavor, and conversion words (e.g., go, get, and buy). The three word buckets are highly rational and mobilized to exploit consumer cravings today. To resonate beyond the immediate now, QSR brands should diversify their communications with emotional appeals, which are proven to create growth for the long haul.

Simplicity is king.

On average, QSR brands communicate two messages per campaign, which is too many. When the messages in an ad increase from one to two, consumer recall drops from 37% to 31% (source: Kantar Millward Brown). For enduring brand salience, reiterate one singular brand story over time — with a bold, relevant message, differentiated and surprising creative, and smart media investments.

The fastest-growing QSR brands are over-indexing media spend on TV.

Across the category, brands are investing heavily in TV and paying minimal attention to addressable media like online video, mobile, and social video. Though TV offers broad and efficient reach, the entire category is prioritizing media spend on this channel, creating a sea of sameness for consumers. To differentiate from the pack, increase the impact of their media dollars, and create stronger relationships with consumers, QSR brands should incorporate more addressable digital channels.

Webinar in Brief

00:26 — Today’s topic: the fastest-growing QSR brands in America

01:09 — What is StoryData™?

02:13 — The three key levers of brand growth: Execution, Message, and Media

03:57 — Executional overlaps among QSR brand stories

04:14 — Computer vision analysis of QSR video ads

05:45 — Average number of messages in QSR video ads

05:58 — The top 25 words in QSR video ads

06:50 — Effects of rational versus emotional storytelling on business growth

07:17 — Are QSR ads leveraging rational or emotional appeals?

07:27 — Chick-fil-A brand spotlight: key messaging tactics

07:45 — Jersey Mike’s brand spotlight: key messaging tactics

08:04 — Taco Bell brand spotlight: key messaging tactics

08:27 — Panera Bread brand spotlight: key messaging tactics

08:58 — What is Excess Share of Voice (ESOV)?

09:13 — Tracking the ESOV of Chick-fil-A, Jersey Mike’s, Taco Bell, and Panera Bread

10:48 — What media channel do QSR brands prioritize?

11:00 — Closing remarks

Webinar in Full

00:10 — The 19 fastest-growing QSR brands in America (by footprint increase from 2018-2020)

01:19 — When are communications the most pivotal for niche brands?

02:12 — Introductions

03:04 — Homing in on four fast-growing brands

03:44 — What is StoryData™?

06:08 — From one asset to all communications: the massive scale of StoryData™

08:40 — The three key levers of brand growth: Execution, Message, and Media

09:56 — The brand-building impact of breakthrough creative

10:39 — Mapping advertising genres

11:48 — Genre 1: Belief brand stories

12:37 — Genre 2: Identity brand stories

13:31 — Genre 3: Lifestyle brand stories

13:57 — Genre 4: Solutions brand stories

14:27 — Executional overlaps among QSR brand stories

15:40 — Computer vision analysis of QSR video ads

20:58 — Average number of messages in QSR video ads

22:03 — The top 25 words in QSR video ads

24:07 — Effects of rational versus emotional storytelling on business growth

25:02 — Are QSR ads leveraging rational or emotional appeals?

25:17 — Chick-fil-A brand spotlight: key messaging tactics

25:58 — Jersey Mike’s brand spotlight: key messaging tactics

26:21 — Taco Bell brand spotlight: key messaging tactics

27:00 — Panera Bread brand spotlight: key messaging tactics

27:45 — What is Excess Share of Voice (ESOV)?

28:56 — Tracking the ESOV of Chick-fil-A

29:33 — Tracking the ESOV of Jersey Mike’s

30:09 — Tracking the ESOV of Taco Bell

30:41 — Tracking the ESOV of Panera Bread

32:08 — What media channel do QSR brands prioritize?

33:00 — Closing remarks

36:08 — Audience Q&A

Scrub up

Get in touch

All fields required.

73 Spring Street, 4th & 5th Floor

New York, NY 10012

212-267-8800