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01/12/2021

Chick-fil-A tops in fast-food brand ‘intimacy’

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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Chick-fil-A is tops when it comes to forming emotional bonds with customers.

The eatery regained its 2019 ranking as the fast-food company with the strongest brand Intimacy in MBLM’s Brand Intimacy Covid Study, which analyzes brands based on emotional connections with customers during the pandemic. The remaining brands in the top 10 for the fast-food industry are KFC, Dunkin', Dominos, Pizza Hut, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy's.

Since the start of COVID-19, daily fast-food consumption has increased by 37%, according to MBLM.

“Despite daily consumption increases, the fast-food industry has been severely affected by stay-at-home orders and initial closings,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM. “However, consumers have been more emotionally connected to fast-food brands during the pandemic. As we return to 'normal' life, fast-food brands should find a way to reference what we have all been through together and how they have reliably comforted us through this crisis."

Although the fast-food industry placed sixth out of 10 industries, overall performance has improved six percent since the previous study. The industry also ranks No. 1 for the archetype of indulgence, indicating that during challenging times, consumers turn to brands long associated with comfort, pleasure and pampering.

Despite restaurant closures during COVID, top intimate fast-food brands continue to significantly outperform the leading brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 indices across revenue growth, profit growth and stock price, the report said.

Technology will likely continue to play a larger role in how we interact with fast food brands, as many consumers prefer to order ahead, flag their arrival via their mobile phone and track deliveries.