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Freshness Tops Convenience and Variety

Consumers say what restaurant marketing statements work best

This article is a brief abstract of our exclusive study that takes the guesswork 
out of food service advertising and marketing.

Download the complete 2017 Southwest Food Service Marketing Report


Marketers are always looking for clear signals about how to market to consumers. Often, the data can be fuzzy and open to interpretation. But not here. In a big way, our responders have made their preference known—56.5% of them say that “Made fresh daily” is the marketing statement that would best persuade fast-food restaurant consumers and other casual diners to visit a restaurant. The next closest preferred statement is more than 10% behind, “We have locations near you” (46%).

Food service businesses and restaurant marketing agencies have already picked up on the freshness wave. Since 2018, the Quarter Pounder you order at McDonald’s has been prepared with fresh, never-frozen beef. Wendy’s has long touted fresh ingredients. Other fast-food restaurants also claim to never use frozen beef, including In-N-Out Burger, Five Guys, Shake Shack, Whataburger, Smashburger and Culver’s. For all of these quick service restaurants, the challenge continues to be  keeping prices low and ensuring food safety.

Here’s another tip for product developers and restaurant branding marketers: Throw out the rules and let customers order what they want and when they want it. We’ve long known about consumers’ desire for personalization and customization. The third and fourth most popular marketing phrases are “Order anything you want all day” (38.8%) and “Custom made to order” (31.6%). Together, they speak to consumer empowerment. Restaurant business marketers need only look as far as McDonald’s success with its All Day Breakfast to see how much “ordering anything” can impact sales.

Starbucks may have paved the way for our penchant for food customization. Julie Beck, a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, says: 

“It’s been said that there are 87,000 ways to order a drink at Starbucks. You’ve got your non-fat milk, full-fat milk, soy milk and coconut milk; espresso shots; all the different flavored syrups, some of which are sugar-free; whipped cream; iced, hot or extra hot if you’ve got a Kevlar tongue; different sizes; different roasts of coffee; and on and on and on.”

This may be a survival thing. More and more, millennials are demanding food and beverage order customization and are patronizing businesses that cater to their individual needs. It doesn’t matter that they may feel entitled or are perhaps spoiled—they want what they want, and are already driving our economy. As they age, they are likely to retain this “me-first” mentality. So, restaurants desiring to stay relevant should look seriously at processes that inhibit flexibility.

Here’s a recipe for a successful restaurant: Offer meals made with all-fresh ingredients and let customers order anything they want.

 In their own words:

Survey responders said...

  • On In-N-Out Burger: “They don’t seem to do much advertising. The food speaks for itself and is delicious. Word-of-mouth gets around and this place is always packed no matter what location you go to.”
  • On Whataburger: “They don’t focus on gimmicks.”

  • On Sonic: “I like their commercials that feature two guys drinking shakes. What I like the most is that their shakes are half price after 8 p.m.”


Updated April 4, 2019

2017 Southwest Food Service Marketing Report

Marketing Report Brochure

This article is a brief abstract of our exclusive and authoritative study that takes the guesswork out of food service advertising and marketing. Rather than speculating about what will drive consumers to action, we've asked them.

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