Restaurants Score Higher in Brand Equity With Millennials

NEW YORK — Millennials are awarding higher than average brand equity to coffee and quick service, casual dining and chicken restaurants, according to new research from The Harris Poll's 29th annual EquiTrend Study, which measures brand health over time.

It also found indications that fast casual Mexican and pizza chains have notably lower brand equity among baby boomers.

When analyzing restaurant brand equity by generation, coffee and quick service restaurant brand equity is nearly 5 points (4.7) higher among millennials compared to baby boomers, while casual dining and chicken restaurants are each four points higher.

Conversely, pizza (negative 8 points) and fast casual Mexican (negative 7.6 points) restaurants see a marked gap among baby boomers, pushing the overall equity for these restaurant categories below average. Since brand equity tends to resist movement, the equity gains and declines among restaurant brands is significant, Harris Poll said.

"Restaurants continue to adapt to the millennial lifestyle, and advancements in ordering methods such as Starbucks' mobile app and Chick-fil-A's 'Mom Valet' are likely influencing millennials' higher brand equity scores," said Joan Sinopoli, vice president of brand solutions at The Harris Poll. "While the millennial dollar is powerful and attractive — and many are clearly enjoying their rising disposable income — baby boomers already have the cash to spend on meals out and need to be courted."

Sinopoli noted that the baby boomer vs. millennial gap among Mexican restaurants and pizza chains could reflect boomers' needs to eat healthier, as well as the fact that they no longer have to please the palates of their children. This also signals an opportunity for restaurants that offer healthier offerings to target boomers in their messaging and menu options.

The EquiTrend Study reveals the strongest brands across the media, travel, financial, automotive, entertainment, retail, restaurant, technology, household and nonprofit industries based on consumer response.

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