Customers are willing to spend more for simpler experiences.
For three years running, quick-service restaurants and supermarket chains, including Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, Publix and McDonald’s, are considered some of the simplest industries by U.S. consumers (ranking No. 2 and No. 3 of 25 industries), according to results from the third annual Global Brand Simplicity Index.
The study, released by global strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale, also found that despite their simplicity, quick service restaurants stand to gain $2.6 billion more from consumers who said they are willing to pay more for even simpler experiences. Grocers could gain $3 billion more in profits for doing the same.
The 2012 survey relied on 6,000 respondents in seven countries across three continents to uncover perceptions of numerous brands. The findings demonstrate consumers’ demand for simpler communications and experiences across industries and around the globe. This year’s study analyzed the customer experience within the travel and hospitality, retail banking, and restaurant and grocery industries to understand how scale and different attributes of simplicity affect consumer perceptions.
Subway earned the coveted No. 1 position as the simplest brand in the U.S., having positioned itself in the “eat healthy” territory long before its fast-food competitors made a move. Dunkin’ Donuts ranked No. 2 with an unmistakably simple emphasis on product and a brand experience baked right into its name: donuts and the coffee to dunk them in.
While McDonald’s and Starbucks, which came in at No. 8 and No. 9, fared well, Burger King and KFC came in last in the category. This is evidence of a trend towards healthier options. McDonald’s recently added calorie counts to their menus and is pressuring others to do the same.
Burger King and KFC also fell behind as consumers expressed that Burger King had too many choices and did not have a “clear price message” and expressed doubts about the quality of the food at KFC.
Fifty percent of respondents said that they perceived dining at local, non-chain restaurants to be the simplest dining experience, while only about 5% of consumers felt global restaurants are simplest. In the U.S., simplicity in dining is connected to unique, personal dining experiences and a strong desire to support owner-run businesses.
Within the grocery industry, Publix and Trader Joe’s, ranked No. 6 and No. 20 respectively, were ahead of the average leaving brands like Whole Foods Market (No. 41) and Albertsons (No. 43) in the dust.
Whole Foods Market, traditionally known for its healthy and organic offerings, dropped 32 spots on the Brand Simplicity Index from last year. Respondents dock Whole Foods for having a confusing store layout, offering too many product choices and a lack of advertising and communications.
The study revealed that checking out at a cashier and using coupons were the simplest experiences at grocery stores, while navigating websites and using a delivery options were most complex. The full PDF is available here.
Global Brand Simplicity Index
U.S. Brand Simplicity Index
Brand Simplicity Index Score®
Brand Simplicity Index Score®