Fast food brands still not delivering results in brand intimacy—which brands lead?

by | Oct 4, 2022 | Public Relations

The fast food industry is moving slow when it comes to developing emotional connections with consumers. Overall, the industry ranks 12th out of 19 examined in marketing intimacy agency MBLM’s latest brand intimacy study and rankings.

Krispy Kreme is the #1 most intimate fast food brand in the firm’s Brand Intimacy 2022 Study, the largest study of brands based on emotions, now in its 12th year. Costa Coffee and Starbucks round out the top three fast food brands, respectively.

The remaining brands in the top 10 for fast food are: Cinnabon, Outback Steakhouse, McDonald’s, Chili’s, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’, and KFC. Consistent with previous years, MBLM also found that top intimate brands outperformed Fortune 500 top brands across profit, revenue, and stock performance.

Fast food brands still not delivering results in brand intimacy—which brands lead?

“Given how much people connect with their favorite meals, the fast food industry has a fairly poor showing in this year’s study. This may be reflective of the quick and often impersonal relationship consumers have with these brands,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM, in a news release. “Brands also may be finding it difficult to find the right balance between evolving with the latest food trends and preferences and staying true to their identities. We feel that if they can focus on the nurturing nature consumers have with food, and also on creating more personal connections, they will be able to build better emotional bonds.”

Fast food’s average Brand Intimacy Quotient score is 33.6, which is below the cross-industry average of 36.8. Indulgence, which is centered around moments of pampering and gratification, is the dominant industry archetype, and fast food ranks fourth overall for indulgence. The industry also ranks third overall for nostalgia, which focuses on memories of the past and the warm feelings associated with them.

Fast food brands still not delivering results in brand intimacy—which brands lead?

MBLM also released an article examining the #1 fast food brand and the overall industry, “A Sweet Victory for Krispy Kreme: Exploring the rise and falls of leading fast food brands.” The agency observes that four of the top five fast food brands fall into the sweets/coffee chain category, which may be reflective of shifts in our eating habits due to the pandemic. MBLM comments that it’ll be interesting to see how public sentiment and post-COVID lifestyle will impact the industry, and how they will adapt to changing perspectives on fast food. But it is notable that Krispy Kreme has succeeded without focusing on shifting trends, as some other brands have.

To download the Brand Intimacy 2022 Study or explore the rankings click here.

To read the study methodology, click here.

The enhanced 2022 study combines MBLM’s proven Brand Intimacy model with the power of AI and big data to analyze over 600 brands, assessing how consumers bond with the brands they use and love.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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