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McDonald's Keeps Winning, Even With Disloyal Customers—Here's Why

They always come back to Mickey D's.

Many were surprised earlier this week to see fast food juggernaut McDonald's rank dead last in the customer loyalty category of a new consumer survey. After all, how can the most valuable fast-food chain on the planet not have loyal customers?

It's certainly a head-scratcher, but that's exactly what Market Force uncovered after polling 5,173 North American consumers on their recent experiences at various quick-service restaurants. Loyalty scores for each casual eating brand were calculated by combining both customer satisfaction and recommendations, so it appears Mickey D's has some serious work to do when it comes to keeping patrons happy.

Despite surveys like these McDonald's continues to grow. McDonald's exceeded Wall Street's expectations for Q3 2022 in terms of both earnings ($2.68 per share versus $2.58 expected) and revenue ($5.87 billion versus $5.69 billion expected). Numbers like those, plus $1.98 billion in Q3 net income, suggest McDonald's doesn't need its customers to stay loyal—as long as they stay spending.

According to the report, five key fast food factors were most influential when it came to keeping burger customers satisfied: Food quality, restaurant atmosphere, staff friendliness, speed of service, and value received for money spent.

Those categories are fairly broad, but a recent Reddit post in the r/fastfood subreddit discussing McDonald's poor performance on the poll is providing some much-needed firsthand insight into why exactly McDonald's customers aren't all that loyal to the Golden Arches.

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Right off the bat, many Redditors shared the sentiment that people simply visit McDonald's over other fast food options because locations are literally everywhere. "You could pass a McDonalds on the way to another McDonalds. There was a brief time I lived in a smaller town in my state. They just had one Costco, one Wal-Mart, etc., but they had 3 McDonalds," wrote one user.

"Then why are their drive-thru lines so long? My guess is that they're the default choice for going to get fast food. And there are so many of them you're likely to pass a McD's on the way to some other fast food store," commented another Redditor.

Indeed, putting loyalty aside for a moment, McDonald's has no problems attracting business. "Every time I pass by a McDonald's, their drive-thru lines are always long. That's enough of a deterrent to not go there," said one commenter.

Others believe the quality of McDonald's food just doesn't hold up against many other brands. "Outside of kids wanting happy meals I really can't see what the deal is with the long lines and why people enjoy it so much.." another Redditor said.

A different user shared a similar sentiment: "Mcdonald's is my last resort, if I'm driving home in the middle of the night and only feel like spending $3-4 I will stop there. Personally for me almost everything (excluding things like McMuffins) on the menu can be made better somewhere else, and probably for the same price without the app deals since fast food is so expensive now."

Prices have increased across the board this year, and some consumers feel priced out of the current McDonald's menu. One user said "They're just too expensive," and another posted "If things were cheaper people would go there more often!"

In all fairness to the home of Ronald McDonald and Grimace, Redditors did have some good things to say as well. "Their Coke is the best in the biz. That's about the only positive they have going for them," wrote one user.

Also, many commenters had great things to say about the McDonald's mobile app. Here's what one Reddit user posted: "I'm not exactly loyal to McDonald's but their app nearly always has BOGO quarter pounders which are cooked fresh and are not bad at all. After tax it's less than $5 and very satisfying.." Another chimed in with: "Yeah they have very decent deals. One of the best apps easily."

All in all, perhaps this Redditor sums up McDonald's fast food monopoly best: "Everyone loves bashing McDonald's, but they still completely dominate."

John Anderer
John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health, and lifestyle topics. Read more about John