Chick-Fil-A Staging Comeback After July Remarks

October 01, 2012, 9:30 PM GMT+0

Embattled dining chain Chick-Fil-A’s perception with fast food diners is having a difficult time recovering from its July meltdown stemming from the CEO’s “biblical marriage” comments, according to YouGov BrandIndex, the only daily consumer perception research service of brands.

The Atlanta-based dining chain has been on a perception seesaw since August, attempting a PR comeback from what looks to be the sharpest perception drop of any fast food dining chain in the past two years.

Chick-Fil-A, formerly a high-flyer compared to its rivals, went on to sink to even deeper perception levels than when YouGov BrandIndex last looked at the crisis in late July. Twice the chain has begun climbing back since mid-August, only to fall back more recently.

Chick-Fil-A has been staging a comeback since a September 20th dispute broke out whether the company actually told Chicago alderman Joe Moreno that it will no longer donate to anti-gay groups or not. However, the brand is currently scoring only slightly above its perception from July 27th, when the brand had already dropped to its then-lowest levels since mid-2010 and well below the rest of the Top National QSR dining sector.

Chick-Fil-A and the Top National QSR Sector were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Index score, the company’s flagship brand health measurement. The Index score is an average of key scores measuring quality, impression, value, reputation, satisfaction and willingness to recommend. All measurements were filtered for adults 18+ who have eaten fast food in the past month. The Top National QSR sector average includes such brands as Pizza Hut, Arby's, Papa John's, Domino's, Taco Bell, KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, and Long John Silver's.

YouGov BrandIndex measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.

On July 16th, the day the Baptist Press published its interview with Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, the chain’s Index score was 56, 7 points above the Top National QSR Sector average score that day of 49.

By July 27th, Chick-Fil-A had a 35 score compared to the Top National QSR Sector average score of 45.

Chick-Fil-A’s Index score didn’t stop dropping, hitting a low of 30 on August 22nd. From then, it staged a comeback, reaching the Top National QSR sector score of 49 on September 10th. But the Index score had dropped back down to 37 on September 19th, when the brand issued a neutral statement saying its corporate giving had been mischaracterized for many months.

The chain’s Index score drop, from 62 on July 10th to 30 on August 22nd, represents a difference of 32 points, a feat not duplicated by any other top QSR brand since at least mid-2010.

Chick-Fil-A’s current Index score is 40, while the Top National QSR Sector average is 53.

YouGov BrandIndex ( interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative US population sample, more than 1.2 million interviews per year. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of more than 1.5MM individuals.