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Where Are the Burgers and Tacos? TotalSocial Predicts QSR Shakeup

Published by Engagement Labs April 11, 2017

A burger and fries is a celebrated menu staple at America’s quick service restaurants. McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s - often considered “the big three” in the industry - built their businesses on it. But these brands are no longer the mainstays of consumer conversation, and thus likely to lose share of stomach, too, according to a new TotalSocial analysis. We recently ranked the top 10 quick service restaurants based on combined online and offline consumer conversations - and it is apparent that people are seeking to hold the burger and fries. And, tacos, too.

“Notably missing from our TotalSocial top ten for the QSR category are the big burger brands and the Mexican quick serve restaurants. To us this suggests there is going to be a shakeup coming in the year or two ahead,” commented Ed Keller, our CEO. You can listen to his comments on the analysis here.

Why are burgers, fries and tacos falling off the menu? The reasons are varied. Our TotalSocial analysis indicates McDonald’s and Burger King suffer from very low sentiment, meaning that conversations about these restaurants are not positive in tone.  Wendy’s has better offline sentiment than these two brands, but does not secure beneficial offline brand sharing – so consumers are not sharing Wendy’s brand content in person. Wendy’s also has a lower influence score – so it is not successfully engaging influencers.

top ten QSR brands

Reflecting that TotalSocial is predictive of sales, Ed said: “The fact that five of the top ten best selling QSRs do not make it into our top ten list suggests some struggles for them and an opportunity and an expectation for growth for those who did make the list."

What do the top TotalSocial brands have in common? Balance in their offline score and online score. The top brands – Starbucks, Chic-fil-A, and KFC – are not only generating social media conversations, but they are also getting consumers to talk to their friends, family and coworkers about where to go out to eat.

“We think that is the key to social leadership,” he said.

Brands that lack the online-offline balance in their TotalSocial score are called “Social Misfits” by Engagement Labs. Papa John’s is in this category. Papa John’s has the top offline TotalSocial score in the QSR category, but there is a 20-point gap between its online and offline scores. Panera is another notable Social Misfit, as the gap between its offline and online scores is bigger than anyone else in the category. Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts are also Social Misfits.

Learn more about the shakeup in the quick service restaurant category by watching our video that delivers both TotalSocial analysis and expert commentary.

Want a bigger meal of TotalSocial brand-level information? Download our e-book, Social Misfits. It details brands whose TotalSocial score indicates a big mismatch between their online and offline conversation performance.

  Balance Your Social Influence Strategy DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK