Despite the fast food giants' heavy marketing investment in the US, fast food consumers show very poor commitment to national fast food chains, according to a study conducted by market information firm, TNS Intersearch.
Of the national chains studied, Subway and Wendy's demonstrated the highest consumer commitment, while McDonald's and Burger King showed a weaker base of committed customers, and a high proportion of consumers at risk of defecting.
These results are perhaps surprising considering the combined US$909,439,500 spent on advertising by the larger nationwide chains during 2002 (compared to a combined advertising spend of US$498,712,900 for the smaller chains), according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.
The TNS Intersearch 'Fast Food Consumer Commitment' study found that 30% of fast food consumers are not committed to any specific brand because the decision of where to go for fast food is not considered important.
Half of fast food consumers either choose their brand over and over again by auto-pilot (e.g. force of habit), or they spread their fast food spending over several brands that they like equally. Compared to the commitment level in a broad range of other categories (e.g. vehicles or soft drinks) this appears to place fast food brands at the bottom of the list in terms of consumer commitment.
However, the survey also showed that 20% of fast food consumers are especially loyal to the brand they choose and, although they may sometimes opt for other brands, they are generally committed to only one brand.