Consumers voted Panera Bread as their favorite sandwich chain in a recent survey conducted by research company Market Force. Jason’s Deli and McAlister’s Deli were ranked second and third, followed by Firehouse Subs, Quiznos, Jimmy John’s, Arby's and Subway.
The study, which surveyed 7,600 consumers in August, factored in the number of locations for each chain and the favorite votes earned by each. Of the 14 major national and regional sandwich and wrap chains considered, Subway garnered the most total votes, unsurprising given the chain's standing as one of the country's largest franchises. But Panera won most the favorite votes per location, which Market Force attributed in part to the chain’s strong loyalty program that capture customer behavior and use that information to inform its menu and marketing strategy.
Panera also was the crowd favorite in all regions except the Midwest, where Jason's Deli came in first. Quizno's and Arby's were only recognized as favorites in the Northeast, but failed to rank in other regions.
As for food quality, value and cleanliness, Jason's was deemed the best overall. Jimmy John's got marks for the best service, and Panera was lauded for its pleasant atmosphere.
“We’re seeing a shift in the sandwich industry, where now the customer experience is just as important as the convenience factor,” Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force, said in a statement. “Brands like Panera and Jason’s Deli are differentiating in areas like atmosphere and health-conscious food, and that’s drawing customers in the door and making them return visitors.”