Panera Bread tops of the list of favorite sandwich chains, according to a national study from Market Force, a worldwide leader in customer intelligence solutions. Panera was voted America’s No. 1 sandwich chain in a restaurant industry survey of more than 7,600 consumers. Jason’s Deli and McAlister’s Deli were ranked second and third, followed by Firehouse Subs, Quiznos, Jimmy John’s, Arby’s and Subway.
The study, conducted in August, was designed to uncover which sandwich chains consumers like most and why they prefer one to another. Market Force first calculated the favorites based on the total number of votes, and then factored in the number of locations for each chain for a more level view of the results. Of the 14 major national and region sandwich/wrap chains studied, Subway garnered the most total votes, which can be credited to the fact that it’s one of the nation’s largest franchises. However, when viewed as a calculation of favorite votes per location, smaller chain Panera took the top spot among the top eight brands. See Graph 1.
With 1,600 locations across North America, Panera has seemingly found the recipe for growth with its bakery-cafe concept. Part of its success is due to a highly successful loyalty program that enables the chain to capture customer behavior and use that information to inform its menu and marketing strategy. On the heels of Panera is fast-expanding Jason’s Deli, which differentiates itself with a menu focused on healthy food. Both Jason’s Deli and third-ranking McAlister’s Deli also saw sales and unit growth in 2011.
How Sandwich Preferences Stack Up Geographically
Market Force also analyzed the results geographically to see which sandwich chains are most popular in the four regions of the country – the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.
Panera was the crowd favorite in all regions except the Midwest, where Jason’s Deli had the highest ranking. The top four in the Northeast included large chains like Quiznos and Arby’s, which didn’t make the cut in any of the other regions. See Graph 2.
Jason’s Deli, Jimmy John’s and Panera Outdo Others in Key Attributes
Market Force also asked consumers to rank the sandwich chains based on attributes including food quality/taste, customer service, cleanliness, atmosphere and overall value. Jason’s Deli landed in the No. 1 spot in the weighty food and value categories, as well as in cleanliness. Respondents lauded Jimmy John’s for providing the best service, and recognized Panera for its inviting atmosphere. McAlister’s performed consistently well in all areas.. See Graph 3.
“We’re seeing a shift in the sandwich industry, where now the customer experience is just as important as the convenience factor,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “Brands like Panera and Jason’s Deli are differentiating in areas like atmosphere and health-conscious food, and that’s drawing customers in the door and making them return visitors.”
The survey was conducted in August 2012 across the United States. The pool of 7,600 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with half reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 19 to over 65. Approximately one-quarter were men and 75% were women, and 73% reported working full or part time. Half of the respondents have children at home and more than two-thirds are married.
For more information on Market Force’s customer intelligence solutions for the restaurant industry, visit www.marketforce.com/industries/qsr-quick-serve-restaurants.
Market Force is the leading global customer intelligence solutions company for multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions, entertainment studios and consumer packaged goods companies. With more than 125 years of combinedindustry experience, Market Force Information has pioneered the industry with a suite of customer intelligence solutions – from 600,000 field associates across North America and Europe who conduct mystery shopping, merchandising and retail auditing, to real customer surveys and proprietary decision-support tools. Its solutions provide a holistic view of the customer’s on-site experience and identify the actions required at the store level to increase customer loyalty and improve financial performance. Market Force was named one of Forbes’ America’s Most Promising Companies in 2011. For more information, visit www.marketforce.com.