This is the 7th insights digest from Segmanta’s brand new study, The Ultimate Food Survey 2020. We surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. consumers to understand their opinions surrounding their eating habits, lifestyles, fast food consumption, and favorite fast food restaurants, etc. 


Fast food restaurants have a notorious reputation for offering unhealthy “junk food”, and offering low-quality services. How to effectively track and measure customer satisfaction has been a crucial strategic focus for QSRs (Quick Service Restaurants), as brands aim to turn around the negative image of the industry.

In our study, we asked Gen Z and Millennials about their opinions on different fast food restaurants, what type of information they are willing to disclose to brands in exchange for better service or discounts, and how they would like to give feedback through self-reported questionnaires.


What Do Gen Z & Millennials Love/Hate about Fast Food?

We asked what people love or hate about fast food and here is what Gen Z and Millennials revealed:

The main reasons that respondents dislike fast food are not surprising.  Most people answered that they avoid fast food because it has low nutritional value/harmful ingredients (46%), homemade food is better (41%), and fast food is not satisfying enough (37%). 

For the people who are passionate about fast food, convenience is the primary benefit, according to 72% of the surveyed consumers, especially Millennials (76%). Gen Z, on the other hand, is more likely to love the taste of fast food, which was the most relevant amongst (47%) younger Gen Z-ers (15-18 years old). 


What Annoys Gen Z & Millennials The Most About Fast Food?

A restaurant’s food and service quality will directly impact its reputation. When asked about the biggest pain points regarding fast food experiences, Millennials and Gen-Zers had different opinions. The most annoying thing about fast food is “unhealthy food options” (52%) according to Gen Z respondents while “inaccurate orders” upset Millennial customers the most (51%).

The most fundamental element for fast food’s success is how delicious the food is. Although fast food is often considered unhealthy, the irresistible taste is still what brings customers back over and over again. Although only 27% of the respondents claimed they eat fast food frequently (a few times a week or more), customers still expect the food to be worthwhile, making each “cheat day” count. 

Customer experience is another determinant of success in the hospitality industry, especially in a digital-driven business environment where word travels fast amongst consumers. According to the 2020 QSR Drive-Thru study, order accuracy saw improvement since 2019, reaching 87% even amidst the COVID-19 challenges. Chick-fil-a was ranked No.1 for best order accuracy, as well as for best food taste and customer service. 


Customers Want To Share Feedback, Just Ask Them

Our survey results suggest that the majority of the respondents are willing to share customer data with fast food brands to help improve their food and services. 54% are willing to provide “food-related preferences”, 46% don’t mind reflecting on their “satisfaction with products/services” (46%), and 32% are okay with giving out “demographic information” in order to receive better food, discounts/promotions, and services. As far as the platforms to provide feedback, 64% of the overall respondents said they are most comfortable with taking online surveys. 

One fast food brand worth noting for its elevated customer service is Chick-fil-a. The restaurant chain took the lead in customer satisfaction, beating strong fried chicken rivals such as KFC and Popeyes. In 2015 Chick-fil-a started conducting customer satisfaction surveys. With the new information, Chick-fil-a was able to retain the service quality while implementing safety measures during the pandemic. Asking customers is the most straightforward way to gather feedback, innovate business solutions, and to enable flexible strategy shifts during this unusual time.


What Can Fast Food Chains Do Better?

In the survey results, we observed that Gen Z and Millennials had different opinions on how fast food restaurants can improve. The two age groups both declared that fast food chains’ first priority should be to provide “healthier ingredients and food items” (64%) and 58% of the Gen Z respondents believe “fair wages for fast food restaurant workers” should be improved. 

According to research from 2019, 20% of Gen Z and Millennials currently work in fast food restaurants. For young adults, such as Gen-Zers, a restaurant job provides excellent opportunities to gain interpersonal, management, and organizational skills. However, 22% of the staff from this age group eventually left the positions due to inadequate income. Furthermore, in order to ensure the food gets out fast enough to the customers, the staff are often rushed during their shifts. It’s no wonder why Generation Z cares more about fair wages for fast food restaurant workers compared to Millennials, who are already in the later stages of their careers. 

Want to find your own insights?

For fast food marketers, customer satisfaction is the core indicator to help direct business strategies. Segmanta’s easy-to-use survey tools allow marketers to conduct informative customer satisfaction research to capture new consumer trends ahead of the competition and to monitor changes in customer sentiments.

Nowadays, major fast food players compete in a data-driven world and the majority of customers are willing to provide feedback. Therefore, enriching customer data via online forms is the most effective approach to accelerate growth and retain customer loyalty.