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    Subway, Dunkin' Donuts Among Harris Poll Top Restaurant Brands

    More than 3,800 brands were assessed.

    NATIONAL REPORT — Subway is the 2016 Sandwich Shop Brand of the Year for the sixth consecutive year, according to The Harris Poll 2016 EquiTrend Study. This success has only been achieved by nine other brands in the EquiTrend study.

    For the 28th annual study, more than 97,000 U.S. consumers assessed more than 3,800 brands (including more than 60 restaurant brands), across nearly 500 categories.

    “The importance of a strong brand can’t be overstated; it can be one of your company’s most valuable assets,” said Lisa Recoussine, vice president, Client Solutions at Nielsen, which owns The Harris Poll. . “When consumers recognize and make a positive connection with your brand they are more likely to make a purchase — and come back again and again. At a time when dining out is more popular than ever, with more options than ever before, strong brand equity is critical to restaurants’ success.”

    Dunkin’ Donuts also secured a Brand of the Year title for Coffee & Quick Service Restaurant. Other winners of the 2016 Harris Poll EquiTrend Restaurant Brands of the Year include:

    • Burger Restaurant — In-N-Out Burger
    • Casual Dining Restaurant — IHOP
    • Chicken Restaurant — Chick-fil-A
    • Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant — Moe’s Southwest Grill
    • Italian Dining Restaurant — Olive Garden Italian Restaurants
    • Pizza Chain — Pizza Hut  

    “Year after year, Subway has proven it has equity staying power,” said Recoussine. “Getting ahead of the fitness curve and being one of the first chains to use a celebrity fitness tie in with ‘The Biggest Loser’ are some factors contributing to Subway’s equity dominance.”

    Harris Poll’s assessment of the restaurant Brands of the Year show that responding to consumers’ needs for fresher, healthier offerings, and catering to their “brand fans” are ways to build strong equity.

    “When we look at the quick-service restaurant category as a whole, healthy and fresh food is a clear trend,” said Recoussine. “Moe’s Southwest Grill and Subway are examples of restaurants that have listened to their customers and responded to their needs. While not fast food, Olive Garden is another good example of making healthy and fresh options a priority.”

    She also noted that building a base of “brand fans” is another contributor to brand equity.

    “When we consider Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts and In-N-Out Burger, these restaurants have die-hard, extremely loyal customers or fans who are in some cases nearly obsessed with these brands. Brands who recognize and acknowledge these fans will remain relevant and stay top of mind with consumers’ active brand consideration set, meaning not only do these brands have high familiarity and quality ratings, but they are able to breakthrough and drive consumer behavior.”

    The EquiTrend Brand Equity Index measures brands’ health over time. It is comprised of three factors: Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration. Brands ranking highest in equity receive the Harris Poll EquiTrend “Brand of the Year” award for their respective categories. The complete list of Harris Poll EquiTrend Brands of the Year can be found here

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