Wendy's Last Among Big Burger Chains With Hispanics: Survey

Comes in Behind Both McDonald's and Burger King

By Published on .

Can the Rojas family make Hispanics more likely to eat at Wendy's?

Wendy's: Mucho Mejor
Wendy's: Mucho Mejor

Whether the fictional family, which is featured in a new Wendy's Hispanic campaign launched earlier this month, can move the needle remains to be seen. But a new study by market-research firm Placed suggests that the No. 2 burger chain may have an uphill battle compared to its rivals.

According to the report, called "Dining Out in America: The Quick-Service Restaurant Landscape," Hispanics were least likely to visit Wendy's compared to McDonald's, Burger King and Taco Bell. Overall, the survey, based on direct measurement of 70,000 U.S. smartphone panelists in April that opted in to location measurement, found Hispanics 16% less likely to visit Wendy's than the average U.S. consumer.

While the report didn't give specific reasons, it's likely Wendy's is not high on Hispanic's fast-food list in part because the chain isn't spending as much to lure the demographic as rivals. Though it has said it plans to increase spending on the segment by double digits, Wendy's in 2012 spent close to $11.7 million on Spanish-language network TV, according to Kantar Media -- and that was down from $13.2 million in 2011. Meanwhile, McDonald's, the largest advertiser in Spanish-language media, was the chain most likely to be visited by Hispanics in the study, compared to Taco Bell, Burger King and Wendy's.

Last year, McDonald's spent nearly $85 million on measured media on Spanish-language networks, according to Kantar and the Golden Arches has long courted the Hispanic demographic, said Julia Gallo-Torres, category manager for U.S. foodservice at Mintel. "McDonald's has really for a long period had great outreach to Hispanics." She added that Burger King also had a leg up on Hispanic marketing last year with a major menu rollout and campaign featuring Hispanic actors like Salma Hayek.

So beyond the big burger chains, where are Hispanics going for fast food? Pollo Tropical, El Pollo Loco and west coast burger chain In-N-Out ranked in the study as the top Hispanic-skewing fast food destinations; Steak 'n Shake, Culver's and Arby's ranked at the bottom of that list.

There is good news for Wendy's, however: It's visited by African-Americans more than Burger King, McDonald's and Taco Bell. African-Americans were 13% more likely than the average consumer to visit Wendy's, showing the strongest skew among those four brands. Taco Bell showed the lowest index with African-Americans being 14% less likely to visit than average. Subway, by comparison, was visited by two in five Americans and Starbucks was visited by one in four, the study found.

Among all demographics Wendy's is the fifth most-visited fast-food chain overall in the U.S., behind McDonald's, Subway, Starbucks and Burger King. McDonald's, the most-visited, saw more than half of all U.S. consumers walk through its doors in April, according to the study.

Other findings: Women visited McDonald's the most; men visited Burger King and Taco Bell the most. Taco Bell saw the youngest visitors, with those under 44 over-indexing; Taco Bell visitors also skewed slightly lower in income compared to other chains.