People Magazine

19 January 2018 — The results are in: Publix Super Markets and Wegmans just tied for first place as America’s favorite grocery chains.

In a recent survey conducted by Market Force, nearly 13,000 participants ranked stores based on their value for money, speedy checkouts, availability of items, ease of finding items, cashier courtesy, store cleanliness and more. The two winners that tied for the metaphorical gold trophy scored big with a 77% rating. Trader Joe’s Market came in a close second scoring a 76% and H-E-B followed with a score of 69% to take third.

Date: Friday, January 19, 2018
Forbes Magazine

18 January 2018 — Publix Super Markets and Wegmans tied for first place, with each scoring 77% on Market Force Information's most recent Customer Loyalty Index. Trader Joe's Market was a close second with a score of 76% and H-E-B was third with a score of 69%. Publix has ranked second for the past four years. This is the second consecutive year Wegmans has earned top honors. Both companies have repeatedly been named to Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Date: Thursday, January 18, 2018
Consumer favorites for petro-convenience retailers

7 November 2017—Phillips 66 is continuing its use of customer insights to assess operational execution by renewing its partnership with Market Force, a leader in customer experience management. To help sites meet brand standards, it employs multiple measurement tools from Market Force, including consumer satisfaction surveys, monthly mystery shopping and semi-annual brand compliance audits for all its sites.

Additionally, Phillips 66 uses Market Force’s KnowledgeForce platform, which funnels data streams from all measurement tools – including call center data – into a comprehensive view of how their locations are performing. KnowledgeForce analytics provide insights into loyalty and financial modeling, empowering Phillips 66 to measure the variables that affect satisfaction and determine where improvements are needed to drive fuel sales.

“We’ve been pleased with the measurable results we’ve realized through our consumer experience program with Market Force,” said Mike O’Connor, manager, marketing programs for Phillips 66. “The insights we’ve gained through our partnership have allowed us to better serve our customers and consumers with a superior experience, which, in turn, increases the financial performance of our sites.”

Date: Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Modern Restaurant Management Magazine

21 November 2017—Bonefish Grill is America’s favorite casual dining restaurant, according to a new study by Market Force Information®. Nearly 8,000 consumers were polled for the study, which ranks casual dining restaurant chains in seven categories: general menu, pizza, Italian, breakfast, buffet, steakhouse and seafood. Bonefish Grill ranked No. 1 overall.

  • The nationwide study also found that:
  • Tablets are failing to enhance the dining experience
  • Yelp greatly influences casual dining restaurant choices
  • Guests are primarily using mobile apps to check menus.
Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Full Service Restaurant Magazine

November 2017—For all the new and exploratory topics driving the future of casual dining, the classics—quality, service, and atmosphere—remain king with consumers.

Market Force Information’s annual casual dining consumer preferences and trends study, which polls more than 8,000 consumers, crowned Bonefish Grill as America’s favorite chain. Across all seven categories surveyed (general menu, pizza, Italian, breakfast, buffet, steakhouse, and seafood), Bonefish stood out for its top score on Market Force’s Composite Loyalty Index with a 68 percent mark. Guests said the Bloomin’ Brands chain has the highest quality food, friendliest service, and most inviting atmosphere of all casual dining brands. Sixty-three percent of people gave Bonefish credit for food quality; 60 percent for friendly service; and 60 percent for inviting atmosphere.

Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Hospitality Technology magazine

5 December 2017—According to a new study by Market Force, which polled  nearly 8,000 consumers, tablets are failing to enhance the dining experience, Yelp continues to greatly influences casual dining restaurant choices over restaurant branded mobile apps, and guests are primarily using mobile apps to check menus.  

Date: Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Casual Dining Press Release 2016

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen is again favorite for general menu, BJ’s Brewhouse for pizza, Maggiano’s for Italian, Village Inn for breakfast, Pizza Ranch for buffet and Texas Roadhouse for steak

LOUISVILLE, Colo., Nov. 30, 2017 — Bonefish Grill is America’s favorite casual dining restaurant, according to a new study by Market Force Information® (Market Force). Nearly 8,000 consumers were polled for the study, which ranks casual dining restaurant chains in seven categories: general menu, pizza, Italian, breakfast, buffet, steakhouse and seafood. Bonefish Grill ranked No. 1 overall.

The nationwide study also found that tablets are failing to enhance the dining experience, Yelp greatly influences casual dining restaurant choices and guests are primarily using mobile apps to check menus.  

Bonefish Grill Swims to Top to Claim No. 1 Spot Overall

Across all categories studied, Bonefish Grill received the highest scores on Market Force’s Composite Loyalty Index, with a 68% score. Maggiano’s ranked second with 60%, Pappadeaux third with 58%, Texas Roadhouse fourth with 57% and Carrabba’s Italian Grill was fifth with 56%. 

Graph 1 – Favorite Overall Casual Dining Chains

What sets Bonefish Grill apart? Guests believe it has the highest food quality, friendliest service and most inviting atmosphere. Cheddar’s was found to offer the best value among the top ranked brands, and Maggiano’s stood out for delivering an experience, not just a transaction. While Sweet Tomatoes has the fastest service, it ranked lowest of the top ranked brands for friendly service. Pappadeaux, Pizza Ranch and Carrabba’s all performed consistently well, earning top-three rankings in one or more of the categories. 

Graph 2 – Top-Ranked Casual Dining Chains by Attributes

General Menu Chains

Texas-based Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, which is known for its made-from-scratch meals and was recently acquired by Darden Restaurants, ranked No. 1 among general menu restaurants for the second consecutive year with a score of 54%. Cracker Barrel held steady in second place with 46%, BJ’s Brewhouse ranked third, Cheesecake Factory and Ruby Tuesday tied for fourth, and Red Robin ranked fifth.

Graph 3 – Favorite General Menu Casual Dining Chains

Not surprisingly, Cheddar’s excelled in all of the areas that matter most to guests, ranking first for quality food, value, friendly service, atmosphere and overall experience. Ruby Tuesday narrowly edged out Cheddar’s for fast service. Cracker Barrel earned second-place rankings for value, atmosphere and delivering an experience.       

Pizza Chains

In the hotly debated pizza category, BJ’s Brewhouse captured the top spot from last year’s leader Pizza Ranch. Old Chicago ranked second and California Pizza Kitchen ranked third, dropping 10 percentage points from last year. Others on the list included Round Table Pizza, Pizza Hut and Cicis.

Graph 4 – Favorite Pizza Casual Dining Chains

BJ’s Brewhouse was top rated for eight of the 11 categories studied including food quality, friendly service, menu variety and delivering an experience, not just a transaction. Cicis earned the highest marks for value and fast service, while Pizza Hut was tops for specials and promotions. Roundtable Pizza landed at the bottom in all but two of the categories studied.

Italian Chains

For the fourth consecutive year, Maggiano’s has been named America’s favorite Italian chain, earning a 60% score. Carrabba’s Italian Grill received a 56% to again land in second place, while Olive Garden rounded out the top three. 

Graph 5 – Favorite Italian Food Casual Dining Chains

Maggiano’s led in most of the categories, receiving first-place scores for every category except fast service and healthy options, which were led by Carrabba’s. Olive Garden ranked third in all but two categories.

Breakfast Chains

Village Inn ranked first among breakfast food chains, beating out past years’ winner Bob Evans Restaurants. Village Inn advanced two places in 2017 to lead the category, with Bob Evans ranking second and Waffle House ranking third.

Graph 6 – Favorite Breakfast Casual Dining Chains

Bob Evans took the top spots for five of the 11 categories studied including food quality, atmosphere and healthy food choices. Village Inn led for menu variety and friendly service, while Waffle House was lauded for the best value, fast service and delivering an experience rather than simply a transaction.

Buffet Chains

Market Force also looked at which buffet chains are leaving guests the most satisfied, and found that Pizza Ranch is again the clear leader with 54%. Sweet Tomatoes appeared for the first time on the list, ranking second, and handily beat out Golden Corral, which ranked third, followed by Cicis in fourth.

Graph 7 – Favorite Buffet Casual Dining Chains

Sweet Tomatoes came out on top in five of the categories studied, such as food quality and healthy choices, while Pizza Ranch was found to have the best atmosphere and friendliest service. Golden Corral ranked No. 1 for menu variety, and Cicis is the value leader.

Steakhouse Chains

In the battle of the beef, Texas Roadhouse was once again the winner for the third consecutive time. It earned 57% to surpass second-place Longhorn Steakhouse, which received a 54%. Logan’s Roadhouse trailed with 46% and was followed by Outback Steakhouse and Sizzler. 

Graph 8 – Favorite Steakhouse Casual Dining Chains

Texas Roadhouse and Longhorn Steakhouse were neck-in-neck in nearly all of the attributes shown to be important to diners. Texas Roadhouse scored first-place rankings for value, friendly service and experience, and Longhorn Steakhouse led in food quality, atmosphere and promotions. Sizzler was found to have the fastest service and healthiest food options.

Seafood Chains

Overall leader Bonefish Grill also beat out last year’s seafood winner to score first in the category with a 68% Composite Loyalty Index score. Pappadeaux and Red Lobster rounded out the category with 58% and 45%, respectively. [See Graph 9].

Graph 9 – Favorite Seafood Casual Dining Chains

Bonefish Grill was found to have the highest-quality food, friendliest service and most inviting atmosphere, while Pappadeaux earned top marks for value and fast service. Red Lobster trailed in every category except specials and promotions, where it took second.

More Tablets Being Served Up, But Experience Falling Flat

Restaurants are seemingly doling out more tablets to their casual dining guests, but it’s not necessarily improving their experience. Market Force found 58% have been provided with a restaurant tablet while dining, a 21% increase over last year, and 87% reported that they have used one. The most popular activities on tablets were paying the bill and viewing the menu, while very few used them to learn more about the brand or buy a gift card. [See Graph 10]. Guests failed to give tablets high ratings for improving their experience, though – only 17% said they make the dining experience more enjoyable (down from 20% in 2016) – while nearly double that number say they help entertain children. 

Graph 10 – How Tablets Are Used In-Restaurant

Restaurant mobile app adoption is growing, with 45% of diners indicating they’ve downloaded one, up 4% from 2016. The apps are mainly used to view menus, find discounts and find locations. Yelp is still the most downloaded restaurant app, followed by TripAdvisor and OpenTable.

Yelp has also replaced TripAdvisor as the app that wields the strongest influence over diners’ choices. Forty-two percent said that Yelp ratings impact their restaurant choices, and just 40% said the same about TripAdvisor. Also, diners indicated that they’re more likely to leave a positive review on TripAdvisor than on other apps. On Yelp, they are as likely to leave a negative review as they are to leave a positive review. 

Graph 11 – Influence of Restaurant Mobile Apps

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in October 2017 across the United States. The pool of 7,926 respondents represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions, and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 51% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 73% were female and 27% were male.


For each category, study participants were asked to select which casual dining restaurant they visited most recently from a list of restaurants with at least 100 U.S. locations. Only those restaurant brands that were selected by at least 2% of participants in each category were ranked and analyzed.
Market Force calculates its Composite Loyalty Index by averaging the percentage of guests who said, on a scale of 1-5, that they would recommend the brand, and the percentage of those who said, on a scale of 1-5, that they were satisfied with the brand.   

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 in 2017 as one of the top 50 market research organizations in the AMA Gold Report and by Forrester as a Breakout Vendor.  For more information about Market Force, please visit us online


Date: Thursday, November 30, 2017

Traditional Banks Losing Ground in the Battle for Customer Loyalty

The results of Market Force Information’s 2017 Customer Experiences and Competitive Benchmarks Study should serve as a call to action for banks across the country. Despite the best of intentions and millions of dollars invested for customer experience improvements, customer loyalty scores at traditional banks have declined across the board. And not surprisingly, the percentage of consumers who say they intend on switching banks in the next 6 months has edged up to 14% in 2017.  

The Current Situation:

Customer loyalty among the nation’s largest retail banks declined an average of 6.5% as measured by Market Force Information's Customer Loyalty Index (CLI) over the last year.   

This decline in customer loyalty is evident in the deterioration of the two underlying metrics that comprise the CLI: satisfaction with one’s primary bank and the likelihood for a consumer to recommend their primary bank to a friend or colleague. 

In 2016, 1 in 10 consumers were dissatisfied with their primary bank. In 2017, that figure has increased substantially to 1 in 5 consumers who now say they are dissatisfied with their primary bank. Similarly, in 2016, 1 in 5 consumers would not recommend their primary bank. In 2017, that figure has increased to 1 in 4 consumers who say they would not recommend their primary bank. 

Of course, we would intuitively assume that there is a direct relationship between a consumer’s level of satisfaction with their primary bank and the likelihood that they would recommend that bank to friends and colleagues. But what many are not aware of is the significance of that relationship.  

Market Force Information's data scientists have quantified the relationship between those two metrics and found that a customer who is delighted (i.e. gives their primary bank a 5 on a 5-point satisfaction scale) with their primary bank is 4.4 times more likely to recommend their primary bank than a customer who is merely satisfied (i.e. gives their primary bank a 4 on a 5-point scale).

What can be done to stop the decline?

To answer this question, banks must study the broader experience of consumers as they interact with non-traditional financial services and non-financial services providers (e.g., Apple, Amazon, Nordstrom, PayPal, Navy Federal Credit Union, USAA, Venmo, and Zelle). Not only are there lessons to be learned from these customer experience leaders, but opportunities for partnerships or acquisitions as well.       

Traditional banks must also take time out to thoroughly evaluate the state of their current customer experience program. In speaking with dozens of major banks across North America, I have observed that most banks have an abundance of data and enthusiasm paired with inconsistent or, in some cases, practically non-existent execution. A sign hanging in the office of the head of customer experience at one of the largest banks in North America said it best, “Data, data everywhere and not a thought to think.”

Despite the best of intentions and millions of dollars of investment in technology, many banks struggle with understanding and effectively communicating what’s most important, identifying which opportunities for improvement exist and isolating which opportunities will deliver the greatest ROI. Even fewer banks have done a good job of having a consistent, technology-enabled process of conducting insight-driven action planning and driving transparency and accountability for execution throughout the organization.

This lack of execution has not gone unnoticed by their customers. In fact, when asked about their primary bank’s performance on several key satisfaction drivers, a third of consumers said their primary bank did not perform any of them well. Had these banks performed well on all of the satisfaction drivers, they would have experienced a 90% lift in customer satisfaction according to advanced predictive modeling performed by Market Force’s industry leading analytics team.  

If the issues cited above sound all too familiar, Market Force can help. To find out more about how you can improve customer experience, loyalty, and financial performance, or simply learn more about the 2017 Customer Experiences and Competitive Benchmark Study, please schedule a briefing

Schedule a Briefing

Chuck Rogers is the Financial Services Practice Leader for Market Force. By leveraging Market Force Information’s customer experience best practices framework, Chuck enables clients to improve their ability to attract, grow and retain customer revenue streams by providing a unique blend of customer experience thought leadership, research-based consulting and industry expertise.

eMarketer on What Makes Consumers Shop for Groceries Digitally

31 October 2017 — The adoption of mobile banking apps is moving steadily ahead, according to new data from customer experience management firm Market Force. The company’s August 2017 poll of US internet users revealed that nearly 80% of respondents had downloaded their primary bank’s mobile app. But just because the app had been downloaded doesn’t mean it was used by most people with any regularity. The poll revealed that only about four in 10 respondents used their banking app on a daily basis, while 45% did so weekly. 

Date: Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Bank Innovation logo

26 October 2017 — Digital wallet adoption is slowly on the rise, and payments provider PayPal seems to be the most popular choice for users. Users of the PayPal digital wallet far extend users of its closest competition, Apple Pay, according to a Market Force Banking Study released yesterday. The study, which polled about 6,500 banking customers in August 2017, found that 67% of customers are using PayPal, while 39% are using Apple Pay.

Date: Thursday, October 26, 2017


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To discuss your needs for improving performance for your multi-location brand, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss best practices for measuring the customer experience and compliance to brand standards, using analytics to understand what matters most and the ROI for change, and technology solutions that integrate large quantities of data on one single platform. We look forward to a great discussion!

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