eBook: Consumers' Favorite Movie Theatres

In 2018 Market Force conducted a study in which nearly 13,000 people participated. The study uncovered movie-watching trends, ranked the top theatre chains and revealed which customer experience attributes drive audiences to continue to keep coming back for the movie going experience. Find out which movie theatre chaings were consumers' favorites.

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eBook: QSR/Fast Casual 2018 Research


Market Force's 2018 research is compiled in a single document, and includes observations about trends in QSR and Fast Casual restaurants, as well as a delving into the survey results into seven categories, including Burger, Chicken, Mexican, Pizza, Frozen Desserts, Sandwiches and Coffee/Bakery.

In the survey we evaluated each brand against six specific attributes, including dining habits, delivery services, visit frequency, brand engagement, customer experience, and problem experience.

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Market Force study on consumer's favorite movie theaters

Better discounts and seating would entice more people into theaters

Peachtree Corners, Ga., Sept. 20, 2018 — Despite the growing popularity of Netflix and other streaming services, consumers are still frequenting movie theaters, particularly ones that offer an elevated and memorable experience for moviegoers. In a new large-scale study, Market Force Information found that more than 52% of consumers go to a movie theater at least once a month, and that Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is their favorite theater chain.    

Nearly 13,000 people participated in the study, which uncovered movie-watching trends, ranked the top theater chains and revealed which customer experience attributes help certain theater chains stand out from the rest.  

Alamo Drafthouse Nabs No. 1 Ranking

Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse, a smaller theater chain that’s grown a dedicated following for its     in-seat bar and food service and its strict rules around theater etiquette, ranked as consumers’ favorite theater chain. It earned a score of 72% on the Composite Loyalty Index, followed by Harkins Theatres in second with 68% and Marcus Theatres in third with 64%. Landmark Theatres, an arthouse movie chain that Amazon was rumored to be eyeing, scored fourth with a 60% score.

Graph 1: Favorite Movie Theater Chains

When the rankings were broken out by generation, Market Force Information found Alamo Drafthouse ranked highest among millennials, Regal Entertainment among Gen X and Your Neighborhood Theatres among baby boomers.

Alamo Delivers Best Service, Marcus Best Seating

Market Force Information also examined how the top theater brands fare in customer experience categories that matter most to moviegoers. Alamo Drafthouse is a clear leader for its box office and ticket collector service, and it also led in delivering a good value for money spent. However, it trailed in the convenient location category, likely given that it has fewer than 50 theaters in the United States. Marcus Theatres took the top spot for its seating options, Landmark Theatres for its movie offerings and Studio Movie Grill for its show time selection. On the flip side, Cineplex Entertainment ranked at the bottom in more than half the categories. 

Graph 2: Movie Theaters Ranked by Attributes

Who Wins at Concessions

Market Force Information looked at the customer experience in movie theater concessions as well, finding that 76% of moviegoers purchased food or beverages during their last theater experience. Alamo Drafthouse had the most concessions visits, followed by Harkins Theatres and Marcus Theatres. Alamo Drafthouse also clearly led in all of the food and beverage-related rankings, such as variety, taste and value. In the important value category, Studio Movie Grill ranked second, and Your Neighborhood Theatres and Harkins Theatres tied for third.

Graph 3: Movie Theater Concessions Rankings

How and Where People Are Viewing Flicks

Although more than half of consumers studied report watching at least one movie per month in the theater, and recent comScore data shows North American ticket sales were up 14% this summer, consumers are still largely viewing movies in other settings. The study found that 76% viewed a movie somewhere other than a theater at least once a month. Home continues to be the favorite place for movie-viewing. Of those who said they watch movies elsewhere besides the theater, 96% watch them on their TV at home and nearly half (48%) watch them on their mobile phones.

Additionally, in the past 90 days, 79% reported streaming a movie and 57% watched one from a disc or tape – 82% on DVD, 61% on Blu-Ray and 9% on VHS.

“With so many options available to consumers, theaters need to do more to entice people to leave the comfort of their homes and spend their movie-viewing dollars with them,” said Ray Walsh, CEO of Market Force Information. “Brands such as Alamo Drafthouse are ahead of the game in understanding that it’s imperative to deliver a unique and memorable customer experience to get consumers off their couches and into a theater chair.” 

Convenience and Price Matter, But So Does Seating

When asked why they chose to watch a movie at a particular theater versus another, 61% pointed to convenience. However, it wasn’t the only influence. The type of seating available was also important, ranking second on the list with 32%. One in five also appreciated the ability to reserve seats and purchase tickets in advance of the movie. 

Graph 4: Why Consumers Choose One Theater Over Another

Market Force Information also asked consumers what might lead them watch more movies in a theater. Nearly three out of four identified ticket price as the top motivator, but also called out other cost considerations such as concession prices and availability of coupons or discounts. More comfortable seating was the only non-cost related factor to rank in the top five. 

Graph 5: Factors Influencing Theater Frequency

The Battle for Movie Theater Loyalty

Loyalty is fairly lackluster in the movie theater industry, with just over half of consumers saying they are loyal to a particular brand. Marcus Theatres and Cineplex Entertainment have the most loyal consumers, with the majority of those surveyed saying they visited the brands almost exclusively in the past year. Additionally, Marcus Theatres has the most popular loyalty program, followed by Regal Entertainment Group. 

“Even though MoviePass largely failed to deliver on its promise, it was a wake-up call for many theaters to make loyalty a priority if they want to beat the competition,” said Walsh. “We’re now seeing AMC, Alamo and others jump on the subscription service bandwagon as an alternative to the industry’s more traditional loyalty programs that are seldom used.”   

Methodology

For the favorite theater rankings, Market Force Information asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their last experience at a movie theater, and their likelihood to recommend that theater to others. Only brands with 100 or more reviews were included in the rankings. The results were averaged to rank each brand based on a Composite Loyalty Index score.

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in August 2018 across North America. The pool of 12,896 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 54% reporting annual household incomes of more than $50,000. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 72% were female and 27% were male.

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® is a customer experience (CX) management company that provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, employee engagement surveys, mystery shopping, contact center services and social media review tracking, which are integrated into one technology and analytics platform, KnowledgeForce®. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves more than 200 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including restaurants, major retailers, grocery and drug stores, petro/convenience stores, banking & financial institutions and entertainment brands. The company has been recognized as one of the top 50 market research organizations in the AMA Gold Report. For more information about Market Force, please visit us online at www.marketforce.com.

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Date: Thursday, September 20, 2018
2018 customer experience survey on home improvement retailers

Peachtree Corners, Ga., Aug. 22, 2018 — IKEA is consumers’ favorite home furnishings retailer and Ace Hardware is their favorite home improvement chain, according to a new nationwide study by Market Force Information (Market Force), a worldwide leader in customer experience management.

Market Force polled more than 1,800 consumers for the home furnishings portion of the study and more than 4,000 for the home improvement portion. In addition to ranking the home retailers, Market Force also looked at the attributes that set the industry leaders apart from the pack, including merchandise variety, store layout, value and customer service.

IKEA No. 1 Home Furnishings Retailer

IKEA, which has maintained steady growth in the face of mounting e-commerce competition, ranks as America’s favorite home furnishings retailer. It earned a score of 75% on the Composite Loyalty Index, placing it far ahead of second-place HomeGoods, which earned 63%. Target and Bed Bath & Beyond tied for third with 61%, and Walmart trailed with 43%.

Graph 1: Favorite Home Furnishings Retailers

Target Wins on Store Layout, Ease of Finding Items

When it comes to the six most important customer experience attributes in the home furnishings sector, IKEA and Target take the top spots. IKEA ranked first for merchandise variety and availability, as well as value and store cleanliness. Target was found to have the best store layout and received the highest marks for ease of finding merchandise in its stores. Bed Bath & Beyond performed consistently well, earning a top-three ranking in all of the categories. On the flip side, Walmart ranked last for store cleanliness and merchandise variety, and tied for last alongside Target for value. 

Graph 2: Home Furnishings Retailers Ranked by Attributes
 

Which Furnishers Excel in Service?

Nearly half – 43% – of customers reported that they received assistance during their most recent trip to a home furnishings retailer. Nearly three-quarters found the associate friendly, but only 56% were asked if they wanted to purchase the merchandise in question.  

Not surprisingly, overall furnishings leader IKEA outperformed the other home retailers in customer service. Consumers find its associates to be the friendliest and have the most product knowledge. It’s also easier to find an associate at IKEA than other chains. Bed Bath & Beyond ranked second across the board, while HomeGoods ranked lowest for friendliness, overall service and ease of finding an associate. 

Graph 3: Home Furnishings Retailers Ranked on Service
 

“Service is of the utmost importance in any retail situation, but particularly in the larger-format stores that are commonplace in home furnishings and home improvement,” said Brad Christian, chief customer officer for Market Force. “The customer experience largely relies on being able to find what you need and someone to help. Otherwise, customers can quickly become frustrated and that can lead retailers to a missed sale.”

Ace Again Tops Among Home Improvement Retailers

Ace Hardware, known for its neighborly service and an intense focus on the customer experience, earned the top spot among home improvement retailers once again in 2018 with a score of 68% on the Composite Loyalty Index. Menards ranked second with 57%, Lowe’s was third with 54% and Home Depot was fourth with 53%. Walmart was a distant fifth, earning just 36%.

Graph 4: Favorite Home Improvement Retailers
 

Ace Sweeps Customer Experience Categories   

Market Force also looked at how the top brands fare in the seven attributes that matter most to consumers. Ace Hardware dominated, ranking No. 1 in all categories, with particularly strong marks for store cleanliness, checkout speed and store layout. Menards tied with Ace Hardware for first place for merchandise variety, and took second place for value, merchandise availability and store cleanliness. Walmart landed at the bottom in every category except value, an area that saw Home Depot rank last. [See Graph 5].

Graph 5: Home Improvement Retailers Ranked by Attributes
 

Methodology

For the favorite retailer rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their last experience at a home improvement or furnishings store, and their likelihood to recommend it to others. Only brands with 100 or more reviews were included in the rankings. That data was averaged to rate each brand on an aggregation of the two measures – a Composite Loyalty Index.

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in June 2018 across the United States. There was a pool of 1,841 consumers for the home furnishings portion and a pool of 4,040 consumers for the home improvement portion of the study. The participants represented a cross-section of the four U.S. Census regions and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 55% reporting annual household incomes of more than $50,000. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Seventy four percent were female, 25% were male and 1% preferred not to answer.

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® is a customer experience (CX) management company that provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, employee engagement surveys, mystery shopping, contact center services and social media review tracking, which are integrated into one technology and analytics platform, KnowledgeForce®. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves more than 200 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including restaurants, major retailers, grocery and drug stores, petro/convenience stores, banking & financial institutions and entertainment brands. The company has been recognized as one of the top 50 market research organizations in the AMA Gold Report. For more information about Market Force, please visit us online at www.marketforce.com.

 

 

Date: Wednesday, August 22, 2018
2018 Wireless Survey

Contract plans continue slow and steady decline; Android eclipses iOS among early adopters

PEACHTREE CORNERS, Ga., July 31, 2018 — Non-contract wireless carriers are continuing to foster high levels of satisfaction and loyalty among consumers, much more so than their Big Four counterparts, according to a new large-scale consumer study by Market Force Information® (Market Force). The study found that Consumer Cellular ranks as America’s favorite carrier overall, and many other non-contract wireless providers also outperformed the major full-service carriers.

The study of more than 8,800 consumers also reveals what sets the leading carriers apart, as well as trends in wireless usage, plans and contacts, in-store experiences and customer satisfaction.

Consumer Cellular, Cricket and Straight Talk Nab Top Spots

When looking at all wireless providers combined, Consumer Cellular ranks as a clear leader on Market Force’s Composite Loyalty Index (CLI) with a score of 71%. Cricket and Straight Talk tied for second place with 56% apiece, and Boost Mobile and T-Mobile tied for third. Meanwhile, Verizon came in a distant seventh, while AT&T and Sprint landed on the bottom of the rankings

Graph 1: Ranking of All Major Wireless Carriers

“With its targeting of niche markets such as the over-50 demographic, as well as an intense focus on service to support this customer base, Consumer Cellular has cultivated a highly satisfied and loyal following,” said Brad Christian, chief customer officer for Market Force. “In fact, we’re seeing an overall shift in the market with non-contract carriers earning strong scores from consumers, along with a meaningful number of users switching to pre-paid and pay-as-you-go providers.”

T-Mobile No. 1 out of Big Four Out of the full-service carriers studied, T-Mobile ranked first again this year on Market Force’s CLI with a score of 46%, a three percentage point gain over 2017. Verizon held steady in second place with a 38% score, a slight improvement over 2017, while AT&T ranked third and Sprint ranked fourth.

Graph 2: Ranking of Favorite Full-Service Wireless Carriers

Cricket and Boost Mobile See Sizable Gains Among Non-Contract Brands

Despite losing some footing over 2017, Consumer Cellular maintained a strong first-place ranking among non-contract carriers for the third consecutive year. Meanwhile, Cricket and Boost Mobile both gained a notable five percentage points – enough to advance Cricket from third to second place, and Boost Mobile from fifth to third place.

Graph 3: Ranking of Favorite Non-Contract Wireless Carriers

Consumer Cellular Dominates

When Stacked Against Others Market Force also looked at how all carriers — both non-contract and full-service providers —compare when it comes to attributes that matter most to consumers, and Consumer Cellular led in nearly every category, including value, call strength, plan flexibility, dropped call frequency and data speeds. Verizon narrowly beat out Consumer Cellular for network coverage, as did T-Mobile for access to new products. Straight Talk also performed well in many areas, such as having an easy-to-understand bill and call strength. Interestingly, the Big Four providers tended to trail in most categories, aside from those related to new technology and products.

Graph 4: Wireless Providers Ranked by Attributes

More Users Ditching Contractual Plans in Favor of Pre-Paid

Market Force found wireless users are continuing to shift away from contract plans with term limits in favor of pre-paid and pay-as-you-go options. In the past two years, contract plans saw a 12% drop among consumers – from 62% in 2016 to 50% in 2018. In the same period, the use of pre-paid service grew by 7% and pay-as-you-go by 5%.

Graph 5: Shift in Wireless Provider Plans

Market Force also found that 14% of users are considering switching from their current provider in the next year, mainly for a better value, but also for improved network coverage and more flexible plans. Sprint customers are most likely to switch, and Consumer Cellular and U.S. Cellular users are least likely.

Cricket’s In-Store Experience Outrivals Others

As wireless technology becomes more advanced, in-store service takes on a greater importance among consumers who prefer to have their questions answered and phone features demonstrated in person. Cricket is the clear leader across the board, ranking first in nearly every in-store service category, from clearly explaining products and providing information, to taking time with customers and proficiently setting up features. T-Mobile led in friendliness, and ranked among the top three in several other categories. 

Graph 6: In-Store Service Rankings for Carriers with Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Android Overtakes iOS Among Early Adopters

Overall, consumers are using the Android operating system (OS) more than Apple’s iOS on their primary wireless phones – 53% compared to 41%. The breakdown is also similar among consumers who consider themselves early adopters, with 51% reporting they use the Android OS vs. 47% using iOS. That’s a different story from 2017 when more self-described early adopters said they primarily use iOS.

Graph 7: Operating System Used on Primary Wireless Phone

Date: Tuesday, July 31, 2018
one customer's experience

Online delivery and click-to-collect use is up, although printed circulars maintain strong following

LOUISVILLE, Colo., June 26, 2018 —Wegmans is America’s favorite grocery retailer, according to an annual consumer study of more than 12,800 shoppers conducted by Market Force Information® (Market Force). Publix, which tied with Wegmans for the top spot last year, is a close second, followed by Trader Joe’s, ALDI and H-E-B. This is the third consecutive year that Wegmans has ranked first in the study, after unseating long-running favorite Trader Joe’s in 2016.

Wegmans held on to the top spot with a score of 77% on Market Force’s Composite Loyalty Index. Publix, which has consistently ranked well in the annual study, is a close second with a score of 76%, followed by Trader Joe’s with 75%. ALDI moved up a slot from last year to land in fourth with a score of 70%, and H-E-B rounded out the top five with a repeat score of 69%. Whole Foods landed in the middle of the rankings with 60%, while Safeway and Walmart ranked at the bottom with 42% and 34%, respectively. 

Graph 1: Ranking of Favorite Grocery Store Chains

 

Wegmans, founded in 1916, is known for its fresh produce, reasonable prices and massive stores. The New York-based chain is expanding steadily and, with a focus on employee training to ensure a great customer experience, it’s created a legion of superfans eager for a new location to open near their home.  

Publix Stores Are Cleanest, Trader Joe’s Offers Fastest Checkout

When it comes to the six customer experience attributes that matter most to consumers, Publix and Wegmans tied for two key ones – store cleanliness and item availability. Wegmans once again ranked first for its specialty department service, while Publix was the clear leader for ease of finding items. Trader Joe’s was found to have the fastest checkouts and it scored remarkably high for its courteous cashiers, besting second-place Publix in that category by nearly 10 percentage points. 

Graph 2: Top Grocery Chains Ranked by Attributes

 

Why Shoppers Pick Their Primary Grocer

What leads shoppers to spend the majority of their grocery budget at a particular store?  The study found that convenient location (62%) is the main driver, although good sales and promotions (60%), and value for money paid (55%) are nearly as important to shoppers.

Food Lion customers more often say their grocer excels in convenience, while ShopRite customers say their grocer excels in good sales and promotions. ALDI is lauded by its customers for delivering good value for money, with Costco ranking second and WinCo Foods third. 

Graph 3: Areas Where Primary Grocers Excel

 

Produce Still Most Popular Organic Product

Consumer preference for local and organic choices at the grocery store is holding steady, with 58% of shoppers indicating that locally sourced meat, produce and dairy products are important. Forty-nine percent said they prefer organic when given a choice (down one percentage point from 2017), and 93% had purchased organic produce in the past 30 days, making it the most popular organic item, followed by meat, dairy and packaged dry goods. Baby products and paper products were the least bought organic items. 

Graph 4: Types of Organic Products Purchased in Past 30 Days

 

Meal Kit Services See High Churn

Meal kit delivery services – where all the needed ingredients and a recipe are shipped direct to the home – continue to grow in popularity.

Fifteen percent of study participants have tried a meal kit delivery service at least once (up from 11% in 2017), however, nearly half (49%) were less than satisfied with the experience. When asked why they opted for a meal delivery service, 50% said they were looking to add variety to their meal planning. Other popular reasons were to have a fun experience, save time and sample new ingredients. 

Graph 5: Reasons for Using Meal Delivery Service   

 

Hello Fresh overtook Blue Apron as the most popular meal kit service, with 39% indicating they’ve tried it. Blue Apron fell one place to second with 35%, and Home Chef was a distant third with 9%. However, 83% who tried a meal delivery service have stopped using it (up from 76% in 2017), primarily because of poor value, but also due to portion size and cost. Home Chef once again has the highest satisfaction rating and the lowest customer churn, along with Plated.

“Many supermarket brands are embracing meal kits, and they appear to be making adjustments that address consumers’ misgivings about cost and value. For instance, Costco is now offering Blue Apron kits in some stores for 30% less than the subscription cost,” said Brad Christian, chief customer officer at Market Force Information. “While the supermarket industry has offered ready-to-go meals for some time, meal kits in stores is a fairly new phenomenon that we suspect will take off because it gives consumers the convenience they want without locking them into a subscription.”  

Tech Use Drives Grocery Convenience

Use of technology-assisted grocery shopping continues to increase, with more shoppers choosing online ordering and delivery, as well as click-and-collect (buy online and pick up at store). Fifteen percent of shoppers said they’ve used click-and-collect, compared to 9% in 2017 and 4% in 2016. Thirty-four percent are frequent users, taking advantage of click-and-collect at least monthly. Walmart, Kroger, H-E-B and Harris Teeter were the grocers most used in the past 90 days for click-and-collect shopping. 

Graph 6: Grocer Used for Recent Click-and-Collect Shopping

 

Home delivery services for groceries are also growing in popularity – 22% said they’ve used the service, compared to 18% in 2017. Most (35%) are using the service to order from online grocery retailers such as Peapod and Shipped, 34% through general online retailers such as Amazon and Jet, and 24% order from a grocery store chain. However, one-fifth are still less than satisfied with the experience, leaving ample room for improvement.

Despite Rise of Tech, Shoppers Still Keen on Circulars

Although more shoppers are turning to mobile apps for grocery deals, it’s not dampening the popularity of circulars. Forty-four percent reported that they use a grocery app – up from 39% in 2017 – and they’re overwhelmingly using them to obtain coupons.

Graph 7: Most Popular Grocery Mobile App Uses

 

That said, printed circulars have lost little ground in recent years, with 84% of shoppers continuing to use them at least weekly, and 14% using them at least three times a week. Eighty percent of shoppers said they plan their shopping trips based on the deals offered in the circulars, while 60% clip coupons and 59% use them to compare prices between stores.

Methodology

For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent grocery shopping experience and their likelihood to refer that grocer to others. The results were averaged to rank each brand based on a Composite Loyalty Index score.

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in April 2018. The pool of 12,892 respondents represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions, and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 52% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 77% were women and 22% were men.


About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® is a customer experience (CX) management company that provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, employee engagement surveys, mystery shopping, contact center services and social media review tracking, which are integrated into one technology and analytics platform, KnowledgeForce®. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves more than 200 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including restaurants, major retailers, grocery and drug stores, petro/convenience stores, banking & financial institutions and entertainment brands. The company has been recognized as one of the top 50 market research organizations in the AMA Gold Report. For more information about Market Force, please visit us online at www.marketforce.com.

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Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Fortune logo

20 April 2018 — Animal style continues to reign supreme with fast-food patrons across America. In-N-Out Burger has once again topped Market Force’s annual customer survey of the nation’s top quick-service restaurants. In-N-Out Burger, a beloved California-based burger joint, earned a 76% rating in customer loyalty. That’s higher than any restaurant in any category, even though the chain is famously limited to only the West Coast.

Date: Friday, April 20, 2018
Petrol Station - Research - 201507

With hard-to-top fuel prices, Costco again leads among grocery and big-box retailers

LOUISVILLE, Colo., May 16, 2018 — Cumberland Farms and Costco are Americans’ favorite fueling stations, according to a new study by Market Force Information® (Market Force). More than 11,500 consumers participated in the annual study, which ranks gas stations in two categories — traditional gas stations and convenience stores, grocery stores and big-box retailers with fuel pumps. The study also reveals trends in food purchases, customer loyalty and technology.

It should be no surprise that fuel price continues to be the most important factor for drivers deciding where to fill their tanks, although good lighting is also a strong consideration, as are payment options, fuel quality and the ease of getting in and out of a location. The availability of good coffee, fresh food and services such as a car wash rank toward the bottom of the importance list.

Graph 1: Most Critical Factors in Deciding Where to Fuel

Cumberland Farms Tops List of Favorite Places to Fuel Up

Cumberland Farms moved up one spot this year to rank No. 1 out of the gas station and convenience store brands studied. It edged out Wawa and Kwik Trip, which tied for second with 65% each. Last year’s leader QuikTrip fell to third place, while Sheetz ranked fourth and Phillips 66 ranked fifth. Out of the top 10, QuikTrip, Sheetz and Speedway all lost significant ground, each dropping 8% over last year.

Graph 2: Top 10 Gas Station/Convenience Store Rankings

Cumberland Farms operates 600 convenience stores and gas stations on the East Coast. It boasts a number of fresh food items, as well as its own private-label brand of snack and candy items. Cumberland Farms customers are also some of the most loyal – it tied with Kwik Trip as a brand where motorists fuel almost exclusively when given a choice.  

Favorites by U.S. Region

The top three chains on the Composite Loyalty Index in each major U.S. region were:

  • West – Shell, Chevron, 76

  • Midwest – Kwik Trip, QuikTrip, Speedway
  • South – Wawa, QuikTrip, RaceTrac
  • Northeast – Cumberland Farms, Wawa, Speedway
Gas Station and C-Store Brands Ranked by Customer Experience Attributes 

Market Force also evaluated how well fuel retailers deliver on a spectrum of customer experience attributes. Murphy led in fuel price for the third straight year, followed by Cumberland Farms and RaceTrac. Phillips 66 ranked highest for fuel quality. QuikTrip was tops in many of the fueling station and in-store categories, such as location safety, appearance and speed of service, and KwikTrip was found to have the friendliest cashiers and best merchandise selection. On the flip side, Arco scored low on all measures except fuel price.

Graph 3: Fueling Station Attribute Rankings
 

Graph 4: In-Store Attribute Rankings

“Even though price tends to drive where people fill up, there are a number of other important areas where gas and convenience store retailers can stand out,” said Brad Christian, chief customer officer for Market Force. “For instance, it’s fully within their control to ensure each of their sites is well maintained and cleaning supplies are available at the pump. We have found in our modeling work that these and other customer experience attributes can generate as much as a two-fold difference in the number of gallons an individual site can sell.”

Customers Filling up on Fresh Sandwiches

Convenience stores continue to offer more healthy, fresh and made-to-order items in an attempt to sell customers lunch, not just gas. In fact, of the 21% who grabbed a fresh-food item during their last visit, 35% bought a sandwich, 20% bought a hot dog and 19% opted for pizza. Casey’s General Store was the most popular for fresh food purchases, although Wawa had the highest fresh food satisfaction scores. This comes as little surprise, given that Wawa ranked No. 1 in the sandwich category of Market Force’s recent quick-service restaurant study.

Graph 5: Fresh Food Purchases and Satisfaction Rates
 

Costco Fueling Favorite Among Big-Box Retailers, Grocers

In the grocery and big-box category, Costco took the top spot for the second straight year. With a 71% score, it ranked significantly higher than Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club, which tied for second with 61% each. Kroger was third, Walmart was fourth and Safeway ranked a distant fifth after it’s score dropped 13% over last year.

Graph 6: Favorite Grocery/Big-Box Stores for Fuel

Grocers and Big-Box Brands Ranked by Customer Experience Attributes

Consumers often frequent big-box stores and grocers in the hunt for low gas prices, which is an area where Costco ranked first and BJ’s second. Costco was also found to have the best fuel quality, appearance and pumping speeds. Motorists find it easiest to get in and out of Sam’s Club’s and Kroger’s fueling areas.

Graph 7: Grocery and Big-Box Attribute Rankings
 

App Adoption Up, Along with Card Skimming Concerns

Gas and convenience store mobile app adoption shows no signs of slowing down. Twenty percent said they’ve used one, double the 10% who reported doing so in 2016. GasBuddy, which allows motorists to search for gas prices, is still the most popular app. However, this year, slightly more people reported that they’re using apps to locate gas stations rather than just to compare prices. This shift might partly explain why the adoption of retail-branded apps has grown significantly, up 14% over 2016.

Graph 8: Features Used with Gas/Convenience Apps

When it comes to paying for their fuel, most motorists are swiping their cards or inserting them into chip readers, while 10% use cash and a negligible 1% make mobile payments. Market Force also found 30% are worried about security when paying with a method other than cash and, of those, 89% are concerned about card skimming devices, followed by the lack of a chip reader.

Methodologyv
For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent fueling experience, and their likelihood to refer the brand to others on a 1-5 scale. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Index score. Only chains that received at least 100 consumer responses and represented at least 2% of responses were included in the study.

Demographics
The survey was conducted online in March 2018 across the United States. The pool of 11,514 respondents represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions. Fifty-two percent reported household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 70% were women and 29% were men. 

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® is a customer experience (CX) management company that provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, employee engagement surveys, mystery shopping, contact center services and social media review tracking, which are integrated into one technology and analytics platform, KnowledgeForce®. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves more than 200 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including restaurants, major retailers, grocery and drug stores, petro/convenience stores, banking & financial institutions and entertainment brands. The company has been recognized as one of the top 50 market research organizations in the AMA Gold Report. For more information about Market Force, please visit us online at www.marketforce.com.

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Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
People Magazine

19 April 2018 — America’s new favorite pizza chain restaurant may come as a surprise to many pizza aficionados. According to a new fast food survey conducted by Market Force Information, Pizza Ranch is the most beloved place to get a slice in 2018.

The Midwest-based pizza chain started in Hull, Iowa in 1981, and now has 200 locations in over 13 states, including Colorado, Illinois, and Wyoming. They serve a pizza buffet with an assortment of pies, sides, and desserts, including their signature “Cactus Bread,” a dessert pizza made with cinnamon streusel and icing.

Date: Thursday, April 19, 2018
QSR magazine

April 2018 — Market Force's annual consumer study of America’s favorite quick-service restaurants produced some surprising results. The data, gleaned from nearly 11,500 consumers, ranked the top burger, sandwich, Mexican, pizza, and chicken brands. It also revealed consumer’s quick-service dining habits, brand preferences, and in-technology use.

Date: Sunday, April 1, 2018

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