The fast casual segment of the restaurant industry is known to be the fastest growing sector in the business. Its appeal comes from many different factors, including affordable pricing, quality ingredients, customizable and healthy menu offerings, and the integration of technology, just to name a few.
According to Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President at Technomic, the growth rate of fast casual within the past year has increased 10.9%, which is more than industry trend forecasters predicted. This growth rate becomes even more impressive when compared to other segments, like casual dining, which had a growth rate of 2%. The NPD Group reported that out of all segments in the restaurant industry, fast casual was the only one to see traffic growth in 2013.
The Data: How It’s Pulled and What It Means
Our Second Annual Fast Casual Social 100 Report is the first and only brand and consumer-connected report for the fast casual restaurant business. This data is especially important, as it targets the fast casual consumers and the Super User of the segment. Specifically, this report targets a variety of consumer-driven data points that can mean success or failure within a fast casual concept.
The majority of the data in the report is pulled from DigitalCoCo’s proprietary Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI), the largest and most comprehensive consumer index for the restaurant and hospitality industry, tracking more than 60 million consumers related to the industry. The Fast Casual Social 100 uses a subset of that data — data that is targeted specifically to fast casual consumers at 24.9 million consumers based from the RSMI.
Overall Top 10 Fast Casual Social Brands
The below rankings are based on a combination of social consumer sentiment, influence, engagement, mobile and location-based actions as tracked by the RSMI. The Overall Top 10 Fast Casual Brands are pulled out of the 2014 Top Fast Casual Social 100 Brands list. For a full brand breakdown, you can purchase the report here.
1. Panera Bread: Pegging in at No. 1 for this year’s report, maintaining its dominant position from our mid-2012 Fast Casual Social 100 Report is Panera Bread with a Social Score of 400.68. This might be a surprise for some, given the early and mid year 2013 challenges in service and quality, but as ﬁnancial reporting on this brand describes, the leadership team has worked hard over three quarters to rebuild consumer sentiment, primarily by ﬁxing operational and speed of service quality issues. As a result, consumers have maintained (and regenerated) trust in the brand. Of course, a strong marketing and communications strategy helps - Panera is very active visually with Instagram and Pinterest, producing robust quantities of content; surprisingly however, their use of video is lacking, with only ﬁve product videos released on YouTube over two quarters. Their two main social channels, Facebook and Twitter, see excellent audience growth and engagement - in Q4 and Q1 averaging 96% engagement in Twitter.
3. Firehouse Subs
4. Shake Shack
5. Jimmy John’s
6. Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill
7. Noodles & Company
8. Tender Greens
9. Five Guys Burgers and Fries
In the Report, You Will Also Find:
• Who are the Leading Fast Casual Super Users?
• A Full Breakdown of the Top 10 Fast Casual Social Brands
• Fast Casual Category Leaders
• Top Fast Casual Brands on Mobile
• Top 5 Fast Casual Culinary Trends
• Most Loved Fast Casual Brands
• Top Fast Casual Brands by Service Quality
• Top Cities for Fast Casual
• Full “Top 100 Fast Casual Social Brands” List