Burgers disappoint US consumers

By Oscar Rousseau contact

- Last updated on GMT

Customer satisfaction has risen for burger producers tapping into the high quality ingredients trend
Customer satisfaction has risen for burger producers tapping into the high quality ingredients trend

Related tags: Hamburger

US burgers rank below the national average for customer satisfaction, but a focus on high-quality ingredients could see fast food chains encroach on restaurant industry territory.

Customer satisfaction for fast food restaurants in the US increased by 2.6% this year, according to an American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report, posted on 21 June. McDonald’s was the lowest-ranked fast-food chain in the survey, but others, like Burger King, Wendy’s and Jack in the Box, all languished in the lowest tier of surveyed fast food restaurants.

ACSI’s report is based on 4,786 customer surveys collected across the US in March 2016 and ranks companies on a 100-point scale.

Despite the below-par performance, there is room for optimisation. Burger King has risen by 6% and is now tied with Wendy’s – which increased by 4% – on 76 points. Jack in the Box received a 3% boost and snuck into 75. McDonald’s remains in last place with only 69 points, but the launch of its all-day breakfast menu pulled in a 3% rise in customer satisfaction.

Chipping away at Chipotle

Americans are now spending more money dining out than shopping for groceries,​” said Claes Fornell, ACSI chairman and founder. “Fast food restaurants appear to be capitalising on the trend more than full-service restaurants, maintaining the lower prices and speedy service that has long defined the industry, while also appealing to health-conscious consumers via more diverse offerings and higher-quality ingredients.​”

Even through burgers rank below the industry average, they still received a boost. This is more than can be said for the beleaguered Chipotle Mexican Grill. It debuted near the top of the industry report last year, but dropped 6% after suffering from five food safety issues in 2015.

Higher quality drivers are improving scores for the industry, but quality issues relating to foodborne illness knock down Chipotle,​” said ACSI managing director David VanAmburg.

Just as Netflix’s stock took a dive after the singular event of its pricing and Qwikster brand misstep in 2011, Chipotle’s stock has fallen after its food-quality crisis. Netflix rebounded rather quickly, but it can take more time for a restaurant to recover from quality issues.​”

Poultry performed best out of the meats. Chicken burger business Chick-fil-A leads the fast-food category and increased its score by 1% to 87. It’s direct competitor- Yum! Brands-owned KFC – also showed signs of growth, with customer satisfaction rising by 7%.

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