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What Consumers Need to See, Hear, and Learn from Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Brand Advertising

September 8, 2020

As we enter month nine of the global pandemic, consumers have re-prioritized their most important expectations when considering a Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) brand, criteria to impact brand recommendation (NPS), and messages they want to hear & see when considering making a purchase. COVID-19 has changed what’s important to one-in-three consumers when considering a QSR brand, including a greater desire for brands to communicate empathy with how the pandemic has impacted their lives, fair treatment of employees, assurance of their safety, availability of product, and fair pricing during limited inventory times.

Changing Expectations

Consumers accustomed to purchasing food and/or beverages several times a week are most likely to continue frequent visits, despite the pandemic. QSR brands, while also challenged to optimize their slashed media budgets, need to ensure their messaging is aligned with consumers’ revised expectations, or run the risk of their campaign having little impact and losing loyal customers.

From our latest Special Report: COVID-19 Impact on QSR Purchase Plans & Brand Consideration, we have found that:

  • Consumers consider knowing how the brand has responded to the pandemic as most important, while price & value come secondary; Detail on how brands adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, including location cleaning and employee screening, is essential.
  • Each age generation exhibits emotional nuances driving QSR brand preference, and these include the relative importance of brand Trust, Value, Salience, Innovation, and Empathy.
  • McDonald’s, followed by Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell are among the most preferred QSR brands.
  • Establishing brand Trust with meaningful creative is a prerequisite for QSR brand recommendation (NPS); Brand Trust among QSR patrons can be achieved with examples of brand response to the pandemic.
  • Offering relief with value menu pricing is most relevant among weekly and infrequent QSR patrons. However, this expectation still ranks lower than the brand’s response to adhering to COVID guidelines, cleanliness, and safety.

Lead with COVID-Response

With increasing competition among QSR brands and more consumers opting for take-out and quick-serve meals, an updated understanding of what their patrons now value and connect their brand as the preferred provider of this value is critical. Consumers have indicated that knowing how a brand has responded to the pandemic is most important to them, which means that, in addition to optimal media creative that connects with consumers, the delivered message has to be quite different than it was pre-pandemic. Now is not the time to stand still, and if QSR brands want to survive this shift into the “new normal,” they need to get on board with how and what consumers are feeling. New messaging that connects with today’s health & safety conscious consumers, order up!

Phoenix offers end-to-end solutions for media development and assessment to global clients. Support throughout the advertising lifecycle benefits from fresh insights on what consumers expect from brands and how brands should effectively message these expectations.

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