McDonald’s Perception Declines But It Remains A Formidable Competitor

Ted MarzilliCEO YouGov Direct
March 24, 2015, 2:14 PM GMT+0

Call it the McDonald’s paradox or a testament to the ubiquity of the brand.

As much as McDonald’s general perception has fallen over the past two years, often putting them behind many of their rivals in key demographics, they have the highest amount of current customers of all top national fast food chains, and place second as the chain consumers consider buying from, according to YouGov BrandIndex, the only daily brand consumer perception research service.

McDonald’s’ perception metrics have been particularly hard hit: McDonald’s places more than halfway down the top national QSR rankings for mothers, even lower for fast food eaters, and dead last for millennials. To measure perception, we use YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, which asks respondents: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"

At the same time, McDonald’s ranks first with current customers among top national QSR chains and second in purchase consideration – a tribute to the brand’s pervasiveness in fast food dining and saturation across the landscape. With these two metrics, McDonald’s actually came out ahead of rival chains which had top perception (Buzz) scores.

But even the chain’s particularly impressive grip on these metrics has been loosening across their most important demographics: the percentage of mothers who report having been a McDonald’s customer in the past 30 days has dropped from 58% to 50% in the past 15 months, and millennials down from 47% to 40%. Even the core fast-food eaters group shed four percentage points over that time frame, going from 49% down to 45%.

Similar drops in those same demos have impacted purchase decision metrics as well – the percentage of consumers who would consider buying McDonald’s the next time they are looking for a fast food place to eat.

Current Customer: McDonald's, QSR Sector

Buzz: McDonald's, QSR Sector

Purchase Consideration: McDonald's, QSR Sector

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