Chipotle Customers Are Smarter Than McDonald’s And Other Insights From Smartphone Data

Where do the smartest QSR customers eat? Where do the wealthiest go? What about the youngest? These questions could previously be answered (sort of) by surveys and other expensive market research. Now, smartphones and real-world behavior provide the answers.

Using a variety of information sources, including anonymous aggregated smartphone and Census data, location intelligence provider PlaceIQ profiled fast-food customers at several competing restaurant chains: Chipotle, McDonalds, KFC, Five Guys, Chick-fil-A, Subway, Panera and Taco Bell.

PlaceIQ Updated Head to Head

According to the data, McDonald’s customers fall into two age categories: 18-24, 65+, with a typical income range of $25 – $50k. By comparison, McDonald’s competitor Five Guys’ customers are 18 -34 on average and tend to be better educated and more affluent, with incomes of roughly $100,000.

The best-educated customers are at Chipotle, and the youngest eat at Panera.

PlaceIQ updated Big Winners

The methodology that allows PlaceIQ (and others such as Placed) to come up with these insights also allows the company to see where these QSR customers shop (see below). For example, Five Guys and Chipotle customers go to more movies than those who frequent the other QSR chains. Five Guys customers also tend to drive VWs as well.

These data carry considerable value, including for media planning and buying. For example Five Guys and Chipotle can reach their target audiences by advertising on movie theater screens before films (so can their competitors).

PlaceIQ data

While a big chunk of this audience information is Census-based, much of it is compiled using offline smartphone behavior, which is aggregated and analyzed anonymously. The point here is not to identify which QSR chain has the smartest customers but to point out these capabilities and how offline, real-world data can generate audience and behavioral insights that were previously very hard or expensive to obtain.

In even more sophisticated scenarios, offline behavioral and audience data can be combined with online information, lookalike audiences and/or CRM data to generate very segmented and highly targeted campaigns — online and off.

Postscript: The top two graphics have been changed based on an update by the company that was provided after the post was originally published this morning.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile Marketing | Statistics: Mobile Marketing | Statistics: Popularity & Usage | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • ReevesJB

    This is fascinating stuff, especially when you compare it to the retail sector, which is something of a tailspin today. Customers (generally) can’t order their burrito for lunch online, but more and more they’re turning to ecommerce channels to buy just about everything else. Retail chains, but also food service providers like these QSRs, need to take advantage of location and contextual information like this to better inform the experiences they offer customers.

    FWIW, my recent blog post on the topic as it refers to retailers:

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