Dining chains that touted product quality and value continued to get through to US consumers last year, according to Buzz rankings compiled by BrandIndex. Subway had the highest average buzz score of any dining brand in the United States in 2010 and also took the top overall score for all companies across sectors beating Ford, Google and Cheerios.
A number of new products have been introduced in recent years, including healthier choices and higher quality options. At the same time, there has also been a complimentary focus on value meal deals in the face of challenging economic times for many Americans.
Subway seemed to take advantage of not only its size, with more than 24,000 locations in the United States, but its value and menu innovation. The fast food chain advertised on TV all year round, promoting its healthful positioning, $5 foot-long sandwiches and new menu items such as the Savory Chicken Caesar sub. Subway’s average buzz score for 2010 was 41.7.
Interestingly, though McDonald’s Dollar Menu and premium products such as McCafe Frappes and Real Fruit Smoothies made sales gains over the past year, McDonald’s Buzz scores did not keep pace with many of its fast food competitors.
On the other hand, Starbucks absorbed negative perception as “the $4-coffee shop” in its overall buzz scores in 2009 yet managed to turn scores around, making impressive gains by the end of the year. In fact, the coffeehouse chain was among the companies that improved their buzz scores to the greatest extent in 2010. Starbucks’ 5.2-point gain, (from a buzz score of 7.6 in 2009 to 12.8) trailed only Domino’s score in overall improvement. Dominos managed a 6.4 Buzz score improvement from 2009 to 2010, furthermore, generating consistent increases in same-store sales on the strength of its reformulated pizza and “Oh Yes We Did” marketing campaign.