Life in the Fast (Food) LaneJuly 12, 2011
Today’s teens live in the fast lane – school, homework, extra-curricular activities like sports or band, a social life, and in many cases a part-time job take up much of their time. They are on the go from early in the morning to late at night. And often fast food is the quickest and easiest option to fuel their fast-paced lives.
Recent Keller Fay research from TalkTrack®, our ongoing study of what people are talking about, both online and offline, shows that teens are also highly likely to talk about fast food, or QSR (Quick Service Restaurants): 20% of QSR WOM is among teens age 13 to 17. And for some of the more popular brands, teens account for more than one-quarter of those talking about them (Burger King, 27%; McDonald’s, 26%; and Wendy’s, 26%).
But what about the quality of teen word of mouth about QSR brands? Our TalkTrack® study measures the polarity of word of mouth – positive, negative, and mixed – for categories and brands. Positive WOM across all categories is 66%, with 15% mixed, and only 8% negative. This results in a Net Advocacy Score of 43 (positive minus negative and mixed).
Overall, word of mouth quality for QSR brands is on par with the all-category average, also with a Net Advocacy Score of 43. In contrast, teens have a below-average score of just 31, with 60% positive, 11% negative, and 18% mixed – the lowest among the age groups. In fact, net advocacy increases steadily as age increases, so much that the 60+ age group earns the highest Net Advocacy score of 56, with positive WOM of 74%.
Of all age groups, teens are the most likely to have conversations that are “mixed” with both positive and negative comments, which suggests ambivalence about the category. We also find that teens are the most likely, perhaps surprisingly, to talk about health concerns in the category. The QSR industry clearly depends on the youth market, but needs to think about how to improve the youth conversation in order to fuel growth.