With QSRs aggressively rejiggering their menus and tinkering with price points over the past six months, fast food eaters believe burger chains still offer the best value, but pizza has made large inroads.
Although burger chains are in the value perception lead, their levels have been steadily eroding since early October to the point where they maintain a razor-thin margin over the surging pizza chains.
After years of marketing their meals as a great deal, the burger sector has been trying to wean consumers off dollar menus: McDonald’s November roll-out of its “Dollar Menu And More” which contains more items over $1 than before, Burger King’s addition of a $1.29 Whopper Jr. and Wendy’s morphing its 99-cent menu into “Right Price Right Size” with items priced up to $2.
On the other hand, since July 1st, the pizza sector ran up from a distant fourth place to eclipse both Mexican and chicken sectors to perch right behind the burger sector. Pizza brands have been aggressively hawking bargain pies throughout the fall, especially on NFL broadcasts. Examples include Pizza Hut’s “$10 Any Pizza Any Size Any Toppings” and Little Caesar’s new $8 deep dish and $5 “Hot ‘n’ Ready” pies.
The chicken sector, which includes Chick-Fil-A, KFC, Boston Market and Church’s, has not budged value perception much in the past five months.
However, the Mexican sector – which includes Taco Bell, Chipotle, Qdoba, Baja Fresh and others – saw a significant value perception dip throughout the summer, a decent bounce back in September and early October, and now has been tapering off again, putting it behind the other three. Taco Bell had been tinkering with a “$1 Cravings Menu” in a few cities. Chipotle’s CFO, Jack Hartung told CNBC in November that it hadn’t changed menu prices in more than two years, but anticipated hikes next year.
All major brands in the hamburger, pizza, chicken and Mexican were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Value score, which asks respondents: "Does it give good value for what you pay?" All respondents were adults age 18+ who have eaten in a fast food restaurant in the last 3 months.
YouGov BrandIndex measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.