Fast food study: Millennials are making the least-healthy menu choices

Photo via McDonald's

Photo via McDonald’s

Last month, data from Placed told us how much America loves its fast food. Now we know a little more about what menu choices people are making at the counter.

Based on Part 2 of the April rankings of Placed Insights, a platform that is essentially the Nielsen TV ratings system or Google Analytics but for the offline world, millennials are the least-healthy fast food eaters while more than half of Taco Bell customers tried out the new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco last month.

Last month, Seattle location analytics startup Placed unveiled the Placed Insights service, which tracks the paths and places of U.S. consumers and quantifies it to bring valuable information for where people go.

placedfastfoodBy measuring more than 70 million locations a day across more than 70,000 U.S. users who have opted-in to share their location, Placed Insights is able to measure around 1,000 businesses per day across 130 categories. That information is combined with extensive metadata and proprietary modeling, then normalized to represent the U.S. population.

Part 2 of the fast food study revealed that the 18-to-24 age group placed the least amount of importance on healthy menu options, while females and those with high incomes were more likely to avoid something like this (see table to right). The stats about the Millennials aren’t surprising considering the increasing childhood obesity rates in the U.S.

The study also looked at new products. Last month, more than half of Taco Bell customers tried out the hyped-up Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, while 41.8 percent of McDonald’s visitors ordered the Premium McWrap.

I haven’t tried the Premium McWrap yet, but the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco is decent. The addicting, salty Doritos seasoning on the taco shell can actually be a little overpowering. And there’s my food review for the day.

Other findings from the study:

  • Between McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s, the McDonald’s Dollar Menu was the most popular among visitors.
  • Consumers who would pay more for healthier menu options were 10 percent more likely to visit Wendy’s, which ranked No. 1 among the big burger chains. Those same healthy eaters were most likely to eat at Chipotle, Jimmy John’s and Panera Bread. 
  • Consumers with children tend to order value meals more often than those without kids.

We wrote about Placed about a year ago, with Shim explaining how measured locations are aggregated across thousands of users to provide analytics to third parties. For example, the company put out a revealing study in February about how Amazon is impacting brick-and-mortar retailers.

Placed, which also offers a product called Placed Affiliate that lets developers monetize location data for market research instead of ads, raised $3.4 million from Madrona Venture Group and others last year.

Previously on GeekWire: Placed offers way for app developers to make money from user location data 

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