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McDonald’s falls from the Top 10 in Foodable’s Most Loved Restaurant Brands

5 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

Today’s consumers, especially those in the millennial generation, are not easy to win over. Social media has created an environment where consumers feel comfortable voicing their honest opinions. This is often why social media is seen as a double -edged sword. But social media is here to stay and it gives a brand the opportunity to engage with their customers even when they are not at the restaurant.

Understanding and managing the data collected from these social outlets is still somewhat an uncharted territory for restaurant brands. Through the extensive Restaurant Social Media Index, Foodable has dissected and analyzed the overall Top 100 Most Loved Restaurant Brands. The analysis has mined social metrics for roughly 10,800 restaurant entitles and 121 million social restaurant consumers. Read more about how the index works.

The report covers so much more than just the overall most loved brands —  including age demographics and frequency in dining occasions for top social consumers, what brands have the highest consumer sentiment in terms of service and food, the top complaints and the most appealing factors of a restaurant to consumers.

Some of the Top 10 Brands might surprise you

The Top 10 is made up of national brands from the quick-serve, fast casual, and casual dining segments. Five quick-serve concepts —  including the No. 1 brand — make the top 10 and not one them is McDonald’s.

Without further ado the overall most loved brand by consumers is…

Starbucks: This year’s victor is no surprise. The proactive way that Starbucks responds to their customers and engages with them via social media has contributed to the success of the brand. For example, in the Fall of 2014, Starbucks had preliminarily decided not to offer their Eggnog Latte to simplify their menu. However, this was not well received by customers and they made that clear on social media outlets. In response, the brand immediately brought back the beloved eggnog latte. By continually tapping into the trending topics relating to their products and responding to complaints, the brand validated their customers and continues to build a strong loyal consumer relationship.

What are some of the other brands that made the coveted top 10?

Buffalo Wild Wings is the highest ranked casual dining restaurant at No. 3. This brand has created an interactive dining experience for their customers with tabletop tablets featuring games, sport’s news, B-Dubs TV and menu options. Enhancing the social experience for customers doesn’t stop at the dinner table. The brand is constantly coming up with innovative ways to reach their consumers through different social platforms. For example, Buffalo Wild Wings launched the B-Dubs Radio in late 2014, iHeartRadio’s first branded radio station, which is “Powered by Wings, Beer and Sports” thereby catering to and expanding its loyal consumer base.

Sonic Drive-In lands at No. 3. The quick-serve brand is known for their comedic campaigns– that are consistently promoted via social media. Sonic not only engages their major following on Facebook and Twitter, but the brand made its debut on Snapchat by teasing Snapchat users with their upcoming limited time offer of the “Mystery Disappearing Slush” flavor. Building anticipation, the flavor was later revealed via Snapchat.

But, what was also specifically interesting about this list are some of the brands are not widely known and emerging fast casual concepts dominated the list. So let’s take a look at the up-and-comers who made the list and why you should keep a close eye on them.

The Up-and-Coming Restaurant Concepts

Tender Greens –This fast casual concept is one of the many relaxed concepts developed by fine dining chefs. Even though this brand has a relatively low price point– their menu features sophisticated dishes, including the Grilled Thai Octopus salad. With over 20 restaurants in California and over 11,000 followers on Twitter, this farm fresh concepts shows no signs of stopping their growth.

Rubio’s helped define the fast casual segment, before there was even the term “fast casual.”  Known for their infamous fish Tacos. The fresh Mexican grill started as a quick-serve restaurant in 1983, but morphed into a fast casual brand. Today there are roughly 190 Rubio’s restaurants in California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. The concept caters to health- conscious consumers not only with healthier menu items, but also with all healthier beverages such as Joia Life, all natural sodas.

Shake Shack is one of the many better burger concepts growing across the nation. This global brand started in 2004 as a hot dog stand in New York City. Ten years later, the brand has over 56 locations worldwide. The brand has also alluded to an IPO event potentially in 2015.

We also see some international brands on the list that have recently launched in the U.S. —  including the Brazilian fast casual steakhouse, Giraffas, the Spanish chain 100 Montaditos and the South African casual dining restaurant Nando’s Peri Peri USA.

Those are just some of the breakout stars of the Top 100 Most Loved Brands list. Even though the Top 100 list features many of the nationally known restaurant brands, we are seeing innovative, health-focused, and international concepts on the list that are flourishing in the market. For the full brand breakdown of the Top 100 restaurant brands by consumer sentiment on food, service and overall brand experience, you can purchase the report on

Kerri Adams is managing editor at FoodableTV.

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