Chipotle climbs four spots from Q1 to Q2, which shows there has been a lot of positive buzz surrounding the fast-casual burrito king as of late. This can probably be attributed to its Q2 announcement of banning all GMOs on the menu, making Chipotle the first national restaurant to use only non-GMO ingredients.
Panera Bread was not so lucky. Even though the you-pick-two chain nixed 150 artificial ingredients in Q2, Panera tumbles from No. 1 to No. 4. Panera’s Sr. VP of Food, Dan Kish, is not letting up on this clean-eating initiative, and has even asked PepsiCo to remove high-fructose corn syrup from its soda, as Panera will no longer be serving high-fructose corn syrup at any of its locations. Only time will tell whether Panera’s “Food As It Should Be” campaign gets the positive social buzz it needs to climb back to No. 1 for Q3.
Another big Q2 mover is Shake Shack, falling four spots, but remaining in the Top 10. Danny Meyer’s “better burger” chain continues to expand, but the brand’s fall doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not doing as well. After all, Q1 brought a Shake Shack IPO, which got a lot of people talking.
It may be surprising to some that Starbucks hasn’t cut into the Top 10 in 2015. But this quarter, it shoots up five spots, from No. 16 to No. 11. Subway, at No. 18 last quarter, fell off the list completely for Q2, and with recent events of the sandwich chain’s spokesperson, Jared Fogle, being investigated for child pornography, it’ll be surprising if Subway hops back on in Q3. Applebee’s also falls off the list completely.
Jumping onto the Q2 rankings are Modmarket and Wow Bao, an interesting twist of events considering they are both fast-casual brands that aren’t national. Modmarket has locations in Colorado and Texas, and Wow Bao — a Lettuce Entertain You brand — is based solely in Chicago, save for presence at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Maryland.
It looks like Q3 could be anyone's game as smaller brands are increasing engagement, influence and sentiment amongst consumers.