How Region and Ethnicity Impact America’s Fast Food Preferences

Northeast vs. West Coast, South vs. Midwest, America proved that quick service restaurants are among its most favored businesses.


In our recent report, Dining Out in America: The Quick Service Restaurant Landscape, we took a look at the most popular fast food brands in the nation, including a deep dive into the differences in dining preferences by region and demographic segments.


Regionally, consumers in the West and Northeast share a love for quick food and quick coffee. In each region, McDonald’s was #1, Subway #3, and Burger King #4. What was #2 for each? The rival coffee giants – Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. It appears that America does run on Dunkin’, but only in the Northeast.  In the West, as well as South and Midwest, Starbucks stole the coffee show.


The coffee giants’ coastal dominance is likely impacted by their geographical starts, Dunkin’ Donuts (Massachusetts), Starbucks (Seattle), while Starbucks’ aggressive expansion strategy has positioned it among the top 10 most-visited places in each region.  With Starbucks poised to add 1,500 additional U.S. locations in the next five years it will be interesting to see if Dunkin’ Donuts will maintain its top coffee position in the Northeast.



When we shifted the lens from region-by-region analysis to focus on the role of ethnicity in dining preferences, we discovered a number of interesting insights. For instance, Asian Americans are nearly 4X more likely to visit Jamba Juice and over 1.5X  more likely to visit Starbucks than the average American.  On the flip side, they are also less likely to visit the Big 4 (McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Taco Bell) than the average American. In the case of Wendy’s specifically, Asian Americans are 46% less likely to stop in for a meal. This should sound an alarm for Wendy’s as well as highlight the potential for reaching this largely untapped segment.



To see more trends in the fast food  landscape, check out our full report: Dining Out in America.

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