Is America's Love Affair with Fast Food Cooling Down?

PlanetFeedback.com Consumers Tell the Industry to Clean Up Its Act



Apr 10, 2001, 01:00 ET from PlanetFeedback.com

    CINCINNATI, April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers are rapidly loosing their
 appetite for the fast food industry.  Latest data on consumer attitudes from
 leading online consumer feedback service PlanetFeedback.com revealed that
 complaints are outpacing compliments by nearly 50 percentage points.
     PlanetFeedback.com offers consumers a quick, easy and free way to register
 a complaint, compliment, question or suggestion with a company.  Aggregated
 data collected in the feedback process is fed into a database, gathering
 essential statistics and key metrics on consumer attitudes, such as customer
 satisfaction, loyalty and viral power.
     The category generating the highest volume of consumer feedback at
 PlanetFeedback.com is the restaurant industry.  In fact, PlanetFeedback
 analyzed more than 15,000 consumer letters sent to fast food restaurants and
 franchises from September 2000 to February 2001.
     Pete Blackshaw, CEO of PlanetFeedback.com, said U.S. consumers, reeling
 from reports about mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease in Europe, are putting
 fast-food chains under higher scrutiny.  "We're starting to see an increase of
 consumers questioning major chains about their sources of beef and
 quality-control measures for monitoring food safety.  But the nervousness
 extends to a higher degree of caution in general and a more pessimistic
 attitude about the quality, cleanliness and service at fast food restaurants."
 
     Key concerns on consumers' minds
 
      -- Food quality is the major issue for customers, although customers
         define "quality" along a broad spectrum that includes the food itself,
         poor service, order accuracy and employee training.  For instance, one
         customer wrote: " ... employees do not care at all about the
         customers."  Based on PlanetFeedback data, restaurants more likely to
         receive food-quality complaints than others include Hardee's, Wendy's,
         Burger King, Pizza Hut, McDonald's and Steak 'n Shake.
      -- Employees can make or break a fast food experience.  Consumers
         complain frequently about poor service, lack of cleanliness/hygiene
         among employees, rudeness, poor training and basic incompetence.
         "Upon arriving home, I discovered a sandwich missing ... in other
         words, I paid $6 for a Pepsi and fries," is one example of a typical
         complaint.
      -- Busy consumers want more menu choices, including more vegetarian
         options, more nutritious foods and healthier alternatives -- but in
         the same amount of time.  Among their suggestions: more breakfast
         offerings, low-fat items, and veggie burgers.  "It really bothers me
         that there are ZERO selections on the McDonalds menu for
         vegetarians ... " is the feedback from one consumer.
      -- Teens and families with children are fast food's most frequent
         customers.  However, teens remain loyal customers, no matter what
         their experiences, while families with children are more likely to
         switch to other companies if they don't like what they encounter.  One
         mother upset with dirty bathroom/diaper-changing conditions for her
         young children wrote: "I will not stop at another Hardee's ... "
 
     According to PlanetFeedback users, the lowest-rated fast food restaurants
 are Hardee's, Dunkin' Donuts, Arby's, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, Wendy's and
 McDonald's.  However, PlanetFeedback users had praise for some fast food
 restaurants.  Those awarded highest ratings included In-N-Out Burgers, Krispy
 Kreme Doughnuts, Chick-fil-A, Papa John's Pizza, White Castle and Long John
 Silver's.
 
     Cleanliness is viral
     Hygiene was identified as the concern affecting fast food customers most.
 In fact, hygiene stands out as the issue that's most "viral," meaning it's the
 one that consumers talk about most to their friends, families and colleagues,
 especially when hygiene is poor.  Consumers' definitions of hygiene cover the
 gamut, from store cleanliness/trash to employees' appearance to gross-out food
 handling habits.  They complain about poor or nonexistent hand washing, direct
 contact with food, sneezing while preparing food and unkempt fingernails and
 hair.
 
     About PlanetFeedback.com
     Founded in October 1999, PlanetFeedback.com is the leading online consumer
 feedback service. Its Web site, www.PlanetFeedback.com , was launched in
 February 2000 and currently generates thousands of letters per week. It is the
 only consumer feedback site with both TRUSTe and BBBOnLine privacy
 certification.  PlanetFeedback also offers services that help businesses
 better understand and respond to consumer needs.  PlanetFeedback's business
 services product, BrandPulse(TM), provides deep analysis for companies on
 customer satisfaction and the "virality" (word-of-mouth behavior) of consumers
 who send company feedback via the Web.  Consumers can reach PlanetFeedback
 through its home page or through over 900 Web sites, including CNNfn.com,
 Epinions.com, Oxygen.com, and many others.
 
 
     Top-rated fast food companies *
     Company Name                                      Grade
     In-N-Out Burger                                     A
     Krispy Kreme Doughnut                               A-
     Chick-fil-A                                         A-
     Papa John's Pizza                                   B
     White Castle                                        B
     Long John Silver's                                  B-
     Sonic Industries                                    B-
     Boston Market                                       B-
 
 
     Lowest-rated fast food companies *
     Company Name                                      Grade
     Checkers Drive-In Restaurants                       C
     International Dairy Queen                           C
     McDonald's Corporation                              C
     Wendy's International                               C
     Burger King                                         C
     Cke Restaurants Inc.                                C
     Pizza Hut                                           C
     Taco Bell                                           C
     Arby's                                              C
     Dunkin Donuts                                       C
     Hardee's                                            C-
 
 
     Top complaints about food quality
     (62% of all complaints to fast food restaurants)
 
     Complaint                                       Percentage
     Preparation                                        35%
     Freshness                                          16%
     Taste                                              14%
 
 
     Consumers interested in expanded fast food menus want to see more!
     Menu suggestions                              Percentage
     Garden/veggie burgers                              39%
     Healthier, low-fat foods                           10%
     New breakfast items                                 5%
     Philly cheese steaks                                5%
 
     PlanetFeedback, BrandPulse and the PlanetFeedback logo are trademarks of
 PlanetFeedback.com, Inc.
 
     * PlanetFeedback's Ratings are report cards on companies and industries
       based on our users' opinions.  To learn more about how we compile our
       ratings, see
       www.planetfeedback.com/ratings/explainGrades/0,2499,,00.html .
 
 

SOURCE PlanetFeedback.com
    CINCINNATI, April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers are rapidly loosing their
 appetite for the fast food industry.  Latest data on consumer attitudes from
 leading online consumer feedback service PlanetFeedback.com revealed that
 complaints are outpacing compliments by nearly 50 percentage points.
     PlanetFeedback.com offers consumers a quick, easy and free way to register
 a complaint, compliment, question or suggestion with a company.  Aggregated
 data collected in the feedback process is fed into a database, gathering
 essential statistics and key metrics on consumer attitudes, such as customer
 satisfaction, loyalty and viral power.
     The category generating the highest volume of consumer feedback at
 PlanetFeedback.com is the restaurant industry.  In fact, PlanetFeedback
 analyzed more than 15,000 consumer letters sent to fast food restaurants and
 franchises from September 2000 to February 2001.
     Pete Blackshaw, CEO of PlanetFeedback.com, said U.S. consumers, reeling
 from reports about mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease in Europe, are putting
 fast-food chains under higher scrutiny.  "We're starting to see an increase of
 consumers questioning major chains about their sources of beef and
 quality-control measures for monitoring food safety.  But the nervousness
 extends to a higher degree of caution in general and a more pessimistic
 attitude about the quality, cleanliness and service at fast food restaurants."
 
     Key concerns on consumers' minds
 
      -- Food quality is the major issue for customers, although customers
         define "quality" along a broad spectrum that includes the food itself,
         poor service, order accuracy and employee training.  For instance, one
         customer wrote: " ... employees do not care at all about the
         customers."  Based on PlanetFeedback data, restaurants more likely to
         receive food-quality complaints than others include Hardee's, Wendy's,
         Burger King, Pizza Hut, McDonald's and Steak 'n Shake.
      -- Employees can make or break a fast food experience.  Consumers
         complain frequently about poor service, lack of cleanliness/hygiene
         among employees, rudeness, poor training and basic incompetence.
         "Upon arriving home, I discovered a sandwich missing ... in other
         words, I paid $6 for a Pepsi and fries," is one example of a typical
         complaint.
      -- Busy consumers want more menu choices, including more vegetarian
         options, more nutritious foods and healthier alternatives -- but in
         the same amount of time.  Among their suggestions: more breakfast
         offerings, low-fat items, and veggie burgers.  "It really bothers me
         that there are ZERO selections on the McDonalds menu for
         vegetarians ... " is the feedback from one consumer.
      -- Teens and families with children are fast food's most frequent
         customers.  However, teens remain loyal customers, no matter what
         their experiences, while families with children are more likely to
         switch to other companies if they don't like what they encounter.  One
         mother upset with dirty bathroom/diaper-changing conditions for her
         young children wrote: "I will not stop at another Hardee's ... "
 
     According to PlanetFeedback users, the lowest-rated fast food restaurants
 are Hardee's, Dunkin' Donuts, Arby's, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, Wendy's and
 McDonald's.  However, PlanetFeedback users had praise for some fast food
 restaurants.  Those awarded highest ratings included In-N-Out Burgers, Krispy
 Kreme Doughnuts, Chick-fil-A, Papa John's Pizza, White Castle and Long John
 Silver's.
 
     Cleanliness is viral
     Hygiene was identified as the concern affecting fast food customers most.
 In fact, hygiene stands out as the issue that's most "viral," meaning it's the
 one that consumers talk about most to their friends, families and colleagues,
 especially when hygiene is poor.  Consumers' definitions of hygiene cover the
 gamut, from store cleanliness/trash to employees' appearance to gross-out food
 handling habits.  They complain about poor or nonexistent hand washing, direct
 contact with food, sneezing while preparing food and unkempt fingernails and
 hair.
 
     About PlanetFeedback.com
     Founded in October 1999, PlanetFeedback.com is the leading online consumer
 feedback service. Its Web site, www.PlanetFeedback.com , was launched in
 February 2000 and currently generates thousands of letters per week. It is the
 only consumer feedback site with both TRUSTe and BBBOnLine privacy
 certification.  PlanetFeedback also offers services that help businesses
 better understand and respond to consumer needs.  PlanetFeedback's business
 services product, BrandPulse(TM), provides deep analysis for companies on
 customer satisfaction and the "virality" (word-of-mouth behavior) of consumers
 who send company feedback via the Web.  Consumers can reach PlanetFeedback
 through its home page or through over 900 Web sites, including CNNfn.com,
 Epinions.com, Oxygen.com, and many others.
 
 
     Top-rated fast food companies *
     Company Name                                      Grade
     In-N-Out Burger                                     A
     Krispy Kreme Doughnut                               A-
     Chick-fil-A                                         A-
     Papa John's Pizza                                   B
     White Castle                                        B
     Long John Silver's                                  B-
     Sonic Industries                                    B-
     Boston Market                                       B-
 
 
     Lowest-rated fast food companies *
     Company Name                                      Grade
     Checkers Drive-In Restaurants                       C
     International Dairy Queen                           C
     McDonald's Corporation                              C
     Wendy's International                               C
     Burger King                                         C
     Cke Restaurants Inc.                                C
     Pizza Hut                                           C
     Taco Bell                                           C
     Arby's                                              C
     Dunkin Donuts                                       C
     Hardee's                                            C-
 
 
     Top complaints about food quality
     (62% of all complaints to fast food restaurants)
 
     Complaint                                       Percentage
     Preparation                                        35%
     Freshness                                          16%
     Taste                                              14%
 
 
     Consumers interested in expanded fast food menus want to see more!
     Menu suggestions                              Percentage
     Garden/veggie burgers                              39%
     Healthier, low-fat foods                           10%
     New breakfast items                                 5%
     Philly cheese steaks                                5%
 
     PlanetFeedback, BrandPulse and the PlanetFeedback logo are trademarks of
 PlanetFeedback.com, Inc.
 
     * PlanetFeedback's Ratings are report cards on companies and industries
       based on our users' opinions.  To learn more about how we compile our
       ratings, see
       www.planetfeedback.com/ratings/explainGrades/0,2499,,00.html .
 
 SOURCE  PlanetFeedback.com