Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Jun 11, 2019

A McWin for McDonald's; big branding bucks for Starbucks

McDonald's and Starbucks triumphed over 230 other fast-food restaurant and coffee-shop brands in the whole of Asia Pacific.

A McWin for McDonald's; big branding bucks for Starbucks


McDonald's and Starbucks have always gone head to head for the number one position in the overall restaurant category (which includes coffee shops, restaurants and fast food chains), since the inception of this consumer-recall ranking, with the balance of power recently tipping towards Starbucks for its well-differentiated branding and broadening of its menu.

Starbucks now takes the 13th place in the overall rankings (and number one in almost all the Asian markets polled except Australia, India and Vietnam), resonating slightly more with Asian consumers than McDonald's at the 20th counter, and more popular than Pizza Hut roasting at the 25th oven. KFC is comforted with a 82nd position, while Burger King comes lower down at 230.

Factors influencing how often diners visited a fast food or coffee shop outlet (and the brand they select) continue to be value driven, especially when it comes to price, menu and service innovation, causing the two top American giants to lose fizz in certain local markets where other chains dominate.

In Australia, the franchise depleting disposable income for coffee drinking is Gloria Jean’s (ranked 537 in Asia), currently experiencing millennial-driven revenue for drinks like its Frothy Cappuccino.

Café Coffee Day (493), a home-grown brand in India, was picked as a pioneer of the national cybercafe culture, and is now the largest with 1,722 stores across 245 Indian cities as of 2018.

Aside from Pizza Hut, their top preferred brand, Hong Kongers showed favouritism towards the fast food restaurants that truly catered to local tastebuds with Chinese fare and the need for speed with a hyper-efficient food logistics system, such as Maxims (237) and Cafe De Coral (414), that are at the same time becoming Insta-worthy to be seen in.

The fast food market in Philippines, which describes local Max's as its favourite restaurant, is divided between local joint Jollibee (517), Shakey's Pizza (552) and McDonald's. The Jollibee growth story, in particular, has been gaining prevalence owing to the casual-dining brand refusing to retreat from the challenge of competing with the Golden Arches. From what started in 1975 as an ice cream parlor in Quezon City, just outside Manila, Jollibee was undaunted by the economies of scale enjoyed by McDonald’s and won over the Filipinos by understanding their desires for sweeter and spicier flavours and applying those to their signature fried chicken.
The story cooking in Thailand has a similar trajectory, where the number one, locally-loved restaurant group MK Suki (548) customised its menu to really suit Thai customers' tastes with Thai suki, a Thai variant of the communal hot pot dish. Clear positioning and sophisticated restaurant management further boosted the brand. 
With a continuing increase in the number of food service establishments in Asia, due to a rise in the frequency of eating out thanks to economic affluence, busy lifestyles and demands for convenience, brand preference in the restaurant category is, and will still be, highly influenced by the offering of perceived value and the satisfying of picky palates.
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