Move over millennials, a new study takes a look at teenagers’ chain restaurant dining habits.

By Mike Pomranz
March 26, 2019
londoneye/Getty Images

The comedian Jim Gaffigan has a classic joke about McDonald’s: The chain has bragged about having “billions served,” and yet, no one seems to want to admit that they regularly eat at the world’s most popular burger joint. Well, turns out there’s one group that happy to admit they eat at MickeyD’s on the regular: young people. Business Insider recently surveyed 1,884 members of Generation Z — a group the site defined as between the ages of 13 and 21 — about their restaurant chain eating habits, and the Golden Arches “dominated the list.”

The poll was conducted in January, asking participants “Which of the following fast-food chains have you bought food or drink from in the last six months?” before offering up a list where they could check off as many as applied. Of the 19 restaurant results Business Insider revealed, McDonald’s easily came in first with over half of those surveyed — 62.79 percent to be exact — saying they been in the past half year. The next most popular chain: Taco Bell with 43.52 percent of respondents saying they’d made a run for the border.

Here are all the results with the percentage of Gen Z-ers who say they’ve made a purchase recently:

  1. McDonald’s (62.79 percent)
  2. Taco Bell (43.52 percent)
  3. Wendy’s (42.09 percent)
  4. Burger King (41.99 percent)
  5. Starbucks (40.18 percent)
  6. Chick-fil-A (39.49 percent)
  7. Pizza Hut (35.03 percent)
  8. Domino’s (31.58 percent)
  9. KFC (28.98 percent)
  10. IHOP (23.99 percent)
  11. Dunkin’ (23.78 percent)
  12. Papa John’s (23.04 percent)
  13. Popeye’s (22.88 percent)
  14. Chipotle (21.23 percent)
  15. Buffalo Wild Wings (20.70 percent)
  16. Olive Garden (19.96 percent)
  17. Applebee’s (19.85 percent)
  18. Panera (18.84 percent)
  19. Five Guys (17.20 percent)

Of course, the big question becomes what is missing from the list? Though we don’t know what options the survey gave respondents to check (which could have potentially biased the list), comparing the results above to QSR Magazine’s list of the top 50 restaurant chains does reveal a few glaring omissions.

First, Subway is America’s largest chain in terms of locations and third in dollar sales. It’s hard to imagine Business Insider didn’t include it as an option, in which case it would appear that teens simply aren’t feeling the well-known sandwich shop. Additionally, Sonic Drive-In and Dairy Queen are ranked 14th and 15th on QSR’s list, but aren’t on the Gen Z survey. Again, these are slightly smaller brands that may not been provided as options, but they also both appeal to a bit of nostalgia. It would be interesting to see where they would fall on a larger Gen Z list.

 

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