Consumer Cravings Guide Quick Serve Menu Offerings

It’s a hard knock life for every category these days, but those on top of their social media listening game are faring much better than others. For example, we see savvy quick serve establishments creating menu offerings that are precisely what consumers crave. Let’s see how they transform this understanding from online consumer intelligence and market intelligence sources to actionable insight!

Using consumer insights will explore:

  • The challenges and success that quick serve operations face.
  • How social media analytics shines a light in consumer cravings and how two brands are capturing them.
  • Using a crystal ball of competitive intelligence, we’ll peek into the future of fast food.

Along the way, we’ll share facts and statistics to support our explorations, such as:

.how to discover and validate consumer demand

Quick Serve Sales Success & Struggles

2020 has been the year of struggles, but that’s old news. What is helping pull brands and companies out of the black and into a whole new world of success? Competitive market intelligence guides businesses in spotting emerging trends using consumer insights to tease out the important intel in our online cacophony.

A timeline of conversation is helpful to understand what the conversation was, is and where it’s headed.

Our timeline below covers six months of conversation around quick serve restaurants and food.

  • In July, it’s unemployment and McDonalds new Spicy McNuggets.
  • In August, conversation shifts to opening restaurants amid COVID-19 fears, with redesigning floor plans for convenience and safety as paramount.
  • And currently, sustainability is a hot topic as more consumers have become conscious of where their dollar goes during their shut in. In fact, 88% now want brands to help them make a difference.


And some conversations are seeing more traction than others.

Pinpointing emerging trends is easily done using our scatterplot. It allows us to see which conversations have the highest engagements. Below, we see there is great interest surrounding Popeye’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, which has the highest number of articles published, as well as consumer engagement. And KFC is generating buzz around its meatless option:


And these conversations are happening all over the world, though topics may vary. However, in the countries below, McDonalds captures consumer attention, that’s for sure. And following closely are KFC and Taco Bell:


Though consumer needs can be tricky to decipher, they are certainly focused on finding tasty options to fuel their locked down lives. And, as shown above, McDonalds and Taco Bell are doing that, particularly in the U.S. Let’s see what is driving that love.

McDonalds and Taco Bell Capturing Consumer Cravings

A brand passion index (BPI) measures both the volume and passion consumers share about a given brand. Here are the key takeaways for our quick-serve BPI:

  • McDonalds has the largest conversation and is doing well in overall passion and sentiment
  • Taco Bell is closest to the sweet spot – conversation isn’t as large, but they make up for it in passion and sentiment
  • Wendy’s has a solid volume of conversation, with good sentiment, while both Burger King and Chick-Fil-A are soaring in passion.

consumer quick serve brand passion

A themed comparison aids us in seeing what this really means and how consumers perceive different aspects of these companies. With it, we can categorize the discussion around different themes.

We’ve chosen Order Accuracy, Value, Cleanliness, Hospitality and Product Quality for comparison of the two Kings of quick service, McDonalds and Taco Bell. Value renders the most fat here, while Hospitality is the least spoken of.


Equally important to what you’re doing well – and not as well, is knowing where to find your customers and potential consumers if you want to run a successful campaign or reach diverse audiences. Here, we see that McDonalds and Taco Bell are being talked about mostly on Reddit and Twitter.


However, looking at total engagements Instagram wins. This social media app may be the best place for brands to interact with consumers.


And it looks like both savvy companies know that Instagram is the place to be, as they have influencers posting about their yummy new additions. This is smart, as 86% of brands use influencer marketing to reach a wider audience – because it works!

McDonalds chose Instagram to highlight their first new products since 1983, Spicy Chicken McNuggets and a Chips Ahoy McFlurry:


And Taco Bell used it to sell custom wine for a limited time in Canada – A Jalapeño Noir, to pair with its Toasted Cheesy Chalupa:


And now we know where the conversion has been – but where is it going?

how to discover and validate consumer demand 

The Future of Fast Food

Quid Social gives us a glimpse of the future, by pulling social media posts, blogs and news articles in for analysis.

Our timeline view, below, shows conversation this past month around McDonalds.

  • McDonalds Drive-Thru is constant, with a couple of spikes.
  • Locations follows that same path.
  • And Advertising & Trends has experienced a few ups and downs.


Consumer sentiment reveals more (below). These bubbles represent our segments and their size indicates positive consumer sentiment helping us spot emerging trends and topics, potentially identifying what a brand is doing right, or wrong.

McDonalds Happy Meals are clearly a win. And Advertising and Trends is up in both count and sentiment score.


Exploring Happy Meals, and the Travis Scott Happy Meal is mentioned. This was a brilliant influencer marketing move that McDonalds created which helped raise their sales in the third quarter of this year. And the lead star in this cluster are the Happy Meal toys. Although they seem cheesy, consumers of all ages continue to love and collect them. This is important – and somewhat surprising, to know:


Advertisements and Trends don’t disappoint either as we see topics speaking to successful marketing. One growing and prominent trend from the pandemic is self-service kiosks for restaurants. Lo and behold, who is already riding that train since 2015, way before COVID-19 hit? McDonalds. Having consumer insight helps predict where the future may take you, positioning you to act quickly:


Right now, everyone is looking forward to, and talking about healthy ways to resume life. But conversations can shift quickly and those self-serve kiosks may become a permanent solution. Let’s hope McDonalds stocks them with happy meal toys!

What intel is important for your brand to consider moving forward? Are you tracking the right things? Stay informed, up to date and ahead of important changes – reach out for a demo!

how to discover and validate consumer demand


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