McDonald's stays fast food brand no 1

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McDonaldsBreakfast, my mum always used to tell me, is the most important meal of the day. That seems to be increasingly true for brands in the fast food sector of the Brandz Top 100 Global Brands Survey. The big names are increasingly focused on breakfast as they target expansion, with McDonalds still no1.

McDonald's brand value rose 23% last year, taking to a figure of $81,016m that was well clear of second placed Subway's brand value of $14,306m. Offering breakfast products enables chains to expand their offering and, more importantly, to drive customer traffic through the day.

Healthier image

McDonald's offered a $1 breakfast menu and also introduced oatmeal. This helped it project a healthier image, increasingly key as consumers like to think they care about their food. Subway and Burger King also started to offer breakfast, with Subway explicitly suggesting customers pick up a sandwich for later when they purchased.

Third-placed Starbucks makes an interesting study. It's cut its number of stores and introduced a cheaper entry price point. That's enabled it to shake off a brand image which had come to symbolise high prices and self indulgence. But it's still able to project itself as a desirable luxury.

Snack attack

Growing demand for snacks also contributed to sales growth; the pizza sector continued to push itself as dinner, rather than fast food, option; and value was a key proposition. Overall, various innovations helped push the sector's total brand value up 22%, the first positive figure since 2008.

Wendy's and Burger King struggled because of high unemployment among the core young male market and KFC has not yet managed to project the kind of healthy image consumers want even the fast food giants to make at least a nod towards. But in China, home to KFC's corporate owner Yum!, sales held up.

In future, expect to see more brands enter the breakfast space, and offer a greater range of products. It's also likely that mid-tier casual dining brands will develop sub-brands to offer in the fast food sector as the boundaries between different types of dining continue to blur.

The Most Valuable Global Fast Food Brands 2011

1 McDonald's $81,016m (up 23% on last year)
2 Subway $14,306m (up 19%)
3 Starbucks $11,901m (up 40%
4 KFC $8,216 (up 15%)
5 Pizza Hut $5,305m (up 58%)
6 Tim Hortons $2,678m (down 17%)
7 Wendy's $1,994m (down 20%)
8 Burger King $1,931m (up 9%)
9 Taco Bell $1,873m (up 2%)
10 Domino's Pizza $620m (-)

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