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McDonald's Is Growing on America

Posted by: Michael Arndt on May 19, 2009

It must feel pretty good to be Ronald McDonald these days. Unit sales have been climbing steadily for almost six full years. MCD shares were among the few to rise in 2008 and are down (only) 21% from their all-time peak last summer. And now comes this: Customers like McDonald’s more than anytime since at least 1995.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, released May 19, scores McDonald’s at 70. Its rating has been climbing since 2005, when it was 62, and had been mired between 60 and 64 since the University of Michigan began the quarterly customer survey in 1995. McDonald’s now outshines Burger King and KFC, which both rank last among quick-serve restaurants at 69.

There’s room for improvement, however. Domino’s tops the fast-food brands with a 77, while Starbucks and Wendy’s both are at 76.

Why is Big Mac moving up? Claes Fornell, a business administration professor and director of the National Quality Research Center at Michigan's Ross School of Business, says Americans value bargains today and they think McDonald's gives them their money's worth. They also like the company's McCafe premium coffees.

Fast food fits our times. The sector's first-quarter score is at 78, also the highest over the survey's 15-year history. The overall index, by comparison, is 76. Only a few other industries tracked by this survey did better: Full-serve restaurants (84), express delivery (82), and health care (78.5).

Here are the top and bottom companies in other categories:

- Utilities: Sempra Energy (80) and Consolidated Edison (66)

- Airlines: Southwest (81) and United (56)

- Express delivery: Fedex (82) and U.S. Postal Service (76)

- Traditional telephone: Cox Communications (74) and Comast (67)

- Wireless telephone: Verizon Wireless (74) and Sprint Nextel (63)

- Cellular handsets: Nokia (74) and Samsung (70)

- Cable and satellite TV: DirecTV (71) and Charter Communications (51)

- Hotels: Hilton (75) and Wyndham Worldwide (70)

- Full-serve restaurants: Olive Garden (85) and Chili's (74)



News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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