Fast-food chains continue to vie for their share of the market. However, despite a heated environment with over 350,000 fast food locations, these quick-service restaurants continue to build quite the loyal following.
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And although keeping the steady foot traffic might be a major feat for some chains, Starbucks has proven otherwise, making its mark as the chain with the most devoted customers, according to Foursquare’s Quick Service Restaurant Loyalty Index.
The coffee giant known for its elaborate drinks and high-end roasteries has been ranked as having the most loyal following with a variety of chains serving up quick fixes from coffee and tacos to pizza and donuts coming up on its heels, the findings indicated.
"It's not all about burgers and fries. The top ten QSRs show significant variety in terms of menu focus," Foursquare report stated. "Brands topping the list include a coffee chain, burger joint, chicken spot, sandwich shop, taco joint, and pizza place. It's safe to say there's no one recipe for success when it comes to customers' loyalty to QSRs."
Despite being pitted against each other, the chains are also trying to effectively compete in an environment where consumer preferences begin to shift towards healthier options while technology continues to raise expectations for speed and convenience.
Fast-casual restaurants and bakeshops have started ramping up their supply of healthier offerings as plant-based meat substitutes, including soy-based sliders and ground lentil sausages, which continue to surge in popularity.
Annual U.S. sales of plant-based "meats" jumped 42 percent from March 2016 through March 2019 to a total of $888 million, according to Nielsen. Traditional meat sales rose 1 percent to $85 billion in that same time frame.
Meanwhile, restaurants are also vying to pull in customers who are flocking online instead of going out to restaurants.
The $26.8 billion online ordering market is the fastest-growing source of restaurant sales in the United States, according to David Portalatin, a food industry adviser for the NPD group. Digital orders, while still accounting for just 5 percent of all restaurant orders, are growing some 20 percent each year. Restaurant visits, meanwhile, remain mostly flat.
Here are the top five restaurants with the most loyal following in order:
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.