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Placed, a location analytics firm, claims to provide one of the most comprehensive views into U.S. consumers’ relationship with fast food and fast casual restaurants including analysis of the top brands, demographic trends and competitor customer profiles.

Placed Chief Executive David Shim says, “No single demographic trait — age, gender, income — provides the signal that ethnicity does in terms of restaurant preference.”

According to a recent report released by Placed, Asian Americans are nearly four times more likely to visit a Jamba Juice than the average consumer, but less likely to visit McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell.

Venessa Wong, an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek, points out that the ethnic variation among chain restaurants can result from variations in location, often reflecting the geographic concentration of a chain’s restaurants.

“Marketing can also play a role in the ethnic gap and has been a focus of fast-food restaurants’ efforts to draw more diners from underserved groups. McDonald’s, for example, had adopted a strategy called ‘Leading with Ethnic Insights’ that takes marketing cues from minority consumers.”

Here are some interesting findings from the Placed report, which is based on data from 70,000 U.S. consumers in April:

These chains get more traffic from Caucasian customers:

• Taco Johns
• Culver’s
• Tim Horton’s
• Steak ‘n Shake
• Caribou Coffee

“The listed quick-serve restaurant locations skew toward the Midwest and East Coast,” says Shim.

These chains get more traffic from Hispanic customers:

• Pollo Tropical
• El Pollo Loco
• In-N-Out Burger
• Wienerschnitzel
• Del Taco

Shim says the data for Hispanic consumers “quantifies a preference to fast-food categories that have roots in their ethnic background.”

These chains get more traffic from African American customers:

• Church’s
• Checkers
• Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits
• Krystal
• Rally’s

For African American diners, the data show there are “two defined categories—chicken and burgers—in terms of fast food preference,” says Shim.

These chains get more traffic from Asian customers:

• Jamba Juice
• In-N-Out Burger
• Jack In The Box
• Starbucks
• Panda Express

“This is one of the most diverse mixes of quick-serve restaurant categories based on ethnicity,” Shim says.

Other Key Findings From The Study:

* McDonald’s ranked as the most-visited fast food restaurant with more than half of U.S. consumers visiting the chain in April.

* Although Subway has nearly 10,000 more U.S. locations than McDonald’s, the sandwich chain trailed the leader to claim the #2 spot reaching 2 in 5 Americans.

* The South was the only region where Wendy’s outranked Burger King, ranking as the #3 most visited fast food destination.

* As the largest food advertiser in Spanish-language media, McDonald’s showed the strongest skew among Hispanic customers compared to Burger King, Wendy’s and Taco Bell.

* Burger King visitors displayed a high affinity to visit Wendy’s and Taco Bell, but not McDonald’s.

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Spence Cooper
Inquisitive foodie with a professional investigative background and strong belief in the organic farm to table movement. Author of Bad Seeds: A FriendsEAT Guide to GMO's. Buy Now!
Spence Cooper