[Consumer study] Should fast-food restaurants focus on environmental sustainability?

Do consumers care about their favorite fast-food restaurants focusing or not focusing on environmental sustainability? That’s something we wanted to find out and asked people in this consumer study.

I'm more likely to eat at fast-food restaurants with sustainability initiatives because I'm big about helping this world become a better place. (1)

The methodology

In a few hours, we completed the study of 100 respondents through Voxpopme’s Influence market research online community (MROC) of on-demand consumers.

We combined quantitative and qualitative questions in the study, and the platform neatly packaged the results in one dashboard.

environmental sustainability consumer study


On the quantitative side, we asked:

  • Which of these fast-food restaurants have you visited recently? (All answers advanced in the study except “I have not visited any of these.”)
    • Wendy’s
    • McDonald’s
    • Burger King
    • Subway
    • Taco Bell
    • Chick-fil-A
    • Domino’s
    • I have not visited any of these.
  • Are you familiar with the term sustainability? (Yes answers advanced in the study)
    • Yes
    • No
  • Are you more likely to eat at fast-food restaurants with sustainability initiatives?
    • Yes
    • No

On the qualitative side, we asked:

  • Why are you more or less likely to eat at fast-food restaurants with sustainability initiatives?
  • Tell us why or why not you are more likely to eat at fast-food restaurants with sustainability initiatives.
  • Do you think more restaurants should focus on sustainability initiatives, and why?

Read next: Not sure what to ask? Check out Voxpopme’s tried and tested open-ended questions for video research.

The results

To sum it all up, we create a  quick highlight reel of reactions:

The quant results

In all, three-fourths of respondents said they are more likely to eat at a fast-food restaurant if it focuses on environmental sustainability.

Are consumers more likely to eat at restaurant that focus on environment sustainability?


The qual results

During the study, espondents recorded a quick asynchronous video message for the qual questions – selfie-style, directly from their phones.

The automatic sentiment analysis showed that 49 percent of all statements were positive, 23 percent negative, and 28 percent neutral.

Unlike the quant questions – which are self-reported answers – this sentiment analysis pulls from what respondents said in their video responses.

The automatic theme explorer and Word Cloud gave me an idea of some of the most mentioned topics.

automated themes

At times, I also use the Theme Builder and my knowledge of the subject to build and group themes for topics that I consider related.

themes mentioned in fast-food restaurants sustainability study

The analysis

Next, I read through the transcripts of the responses. This is an easy way to read some more in-depth, skim ahead when applicable, and go back to previous answers in seconds.

Examples of what people said

“I do not pick restaurants based on sustainability initiatives. A lot of fast-food restaurants don’t advertise what they do for sustainability and how to make everything better. They don’t let you know what they’re doing. I feel they all should do that,” said Jennifer, 35, of South Bend.

“A lot of the restaurants around us already do have these initiatives. Things such as paper straws, and recyclable wraps that the product comes in using organically grown local gardens. So I think that’s awesome for the one environment and community,” said Christina, 40, of Lehigh Acres.

“Sustainability is not something I generally think about. So it wouldn’t affect my decision of whether or not to eat at a specific restaurant. It’s not that I would be more or less likely to go there because of it. It would make no difference in whether I went or not,” said Laura, 43, of Savannah.

“I’m more likely to eat at fast-food restaurants with sustainability initiatives. Because it’s one of many ways I can do my part to help with the environment and climate change. I wish I knew more about their sustainability practices,” said Alison, 36, of Cedar Rapids.

Read next: Consumer study: What do consumers think about fast fashion?

Where to next?

Many consumers said they do support fast-food restaurants and environmental sustainability. But this strategy didn’t address specific strategies of sustainability. And some consumers even mentioned that they didn’t know what particular quick-serve restaurants are doing.

That could be a potential follow-up study – especially after a public education campaign about the topic: Can you tell us what <specific restaurant> is doing regarding environmental sustainability? Does that make a difference in your buying habits from our restaurant?

Read next: How you can use video surveys for your next project!


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