Healthy Options: How Do Leading Restaurant Chains Stack Up?

Consumers say it’s important for restaurants to offer healthy items. Yet, as shown in a recent white paper based on our Consumer Brand Metrics data, ratings of chain restaurants on this attribute often fall short.

A majority of consumers say that healthy options are important in their decisions to visit restaurants—even quick-service concepts. While consumers may not opt for these items on every visit, it’s critical to at least have a choice of whether to indulge.

In comparison, a smaller proportion of consumers give chain restaurants high marks on their healthy offerings. On average, less than half of consumers rate restaurant chains as very good on the availability of healthy options on their most recent visit.

However, consumers rate several restaurants ahead of the competition on this attribute:

Availability of Healthy Options

Top box = very good, showing top 3 LSR’s and FSR’s

Top Three Limited-Service Restaurants: Top Three Limited-Service Restaurants:

  • Jamba Juice
  • Jason’s Deli
  • McAlister’s Deli
Top Three Full-Service Restaurants: Top Three Full-Service Restaurants:

  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Bahama Breeze Island Grille

Limited- versus Full-Service Restaurants

Limited-service chains excel overall, despite their lower segment average. Menu positioning plays a large role, and Jamba Juice benefits from the health halo surrounding smoothies and juices.

Among full-service restaurants, consumers give chains credit for different approaches to health: whether offering healthy items as part of a broad menu mix (as with The Cheesecake Factory’s Skinnylicious Menu) or focusing on a category associated with health (as with Bonefish Grill’s fresh seafood offerings).

These ratings reinforce that there’s no single approach to health that universally resonates with consumers, giving each operator the freedom to explore healthier menu choices in a way that makes sense for its brand. Over time, concerted efforts in this area may help bridge the gap between consumer expectations and reality when seeking healthy foodservice options.

Consumers’ perceptions are the most powerful driver of your success. However, capturing and analyzing that data can be difficult and expensive. Consumer Brand Metrics provides operators and suppliers with easy-to-use, cost-effective online tools and personal assistance in evaluating over 120,000 annual consumer visits at leading U.S. and Canadian restaurants, retailers and c-store chains. Learn more.


Colleen Rothman

Colleen Rothman is a Consumer Research Manager at Technomic Inc. She manages the Consumer Brand Metrics program, which delivers exclusive consumer attitudes toward and usage of 100+ leading restaurant chains, retailers and convenience stores.

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