BrandIndex's Friday column in Brandweek: Dining Chains, Taco Bell and Long John Silver's

YouGov Names Top 10 Restaurant Chains

Oct 21, 2010

Since Labor Day, consumers have seen new campaigns and promotions crop up to replace summer marketing efforts, per YouGov. Below is a look at the 10 major dining brands, which have moved the buzz score needle the most in the past 30 days with adults over 18.

The Brandweek BrandIndex Report by YouGov is a weekly consumer perception report that analyzes the most talked about brands based on buzz: The scores are based on weighing positive and negative perceptions of a brand. A +100 score is positive, a -100 score is negative, and a rating of zero means that the score is neutral. This week's report also measures quality and value.

YouGov interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of 1.5 million individuals.

The report spotlights:

• Top 10 restaurants
• Taco Bell
• Long John Silver’s

Top 10 Dining Brands Named
Applebee’s stands out from competitors, when it comes to a restaurant brand that has improved its buzz score the most. Applebee's benefited from sponsoring “back-to-school” nights with contests and prizes. It also announced its third annual “Thank a Soldier Day”—another effort that resonated well with consumers.

Meanwhile, Whataburger held a month-long search to find the chain’s biggest fans, followed by a menu expansion with a chocolate brownie pie. And with football season in full swing, Hooters was out promoting its chicken wings as a lure for large groups.

Taco Bell Catches Up to Peers
Taco Bell’s introduction of street food-inspired Cantina Tacos at participating stores in early August significantly improved its quality scores from early August through the third week of September.

The Mexican QSR sector normally averages in the single digits when it comes to quality. Taco Bell had been scoring in negative numbers since April, bottoming out at -14 in the middle of June. However, since Taco Bell’s new menu items debuted in August, its quality score for men 18- 49 rose and reached positive territory through the end of September. The chain’s single-digit scores were inline with the rest of the sector.

Then Taco Bell launched the MLB playoffs campaign featuring Yankees general manager Joe Girardi and closer Mariano Rivera. The effort has been unable to keep the chain's score afloat since the post-season began. Taco Bell’s quality scores recently started sagging down to -2.1.

Long John Silver’s Pushes Value to Families
The $10 price point has become a battleground for dining chains, notably Pizza Hut, which has been offering any pizza for that price. Seafood chain Long John Silver’s has joined the fray with a two-week “$10 Family Pack” promotion on Oct. 10, targeting families of four.

Long John Silver’s is even throwing in a free dessert, along with eight pieces of Alaskan whitefish, a family-size order of coleslaw, and 12 pieces of hushpuppies, as part of the $10 deal. The catch? Consumers must provide a competing pizza chain coupon (including fellow Yum! brand Pizza Hut).

The Long John Silver’s promo impacted its value score among adults with kids under 18 almost immediately. Leading up to the promotional period, value scores jumped from negative numbers to 7.5.