Hospitality

Fitness Enthusiasts May Have Come Around on Fast Food

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CivicScience CEO John Dick pulled together some compelling data on fitness fanatics and McDonald’s earlier this month:

“McDonald’s is winning over healthy people. Mickey D’s announced this week that they’re yanking artificial ingredients from their classic burger lineup, just another in a long line of moves towards a healthier menu. So, I looked back at our data over the past 8 years to see how the strategy is working. In short, it’s working. Big-time. In 2015, among people who consider health and fitness activities “important” or “a passion” in their lives, 34% had a favorable view of McDonald’s and 42% were unfavorable. Today, those numbers have jumped to 40% favorable and just 27% unfavorable. That’s a net improvement of 21 percentage points in three years. Very, very impressive.”

It looks like people who consider health and fitness to be their passion are also falling for fast food. Health-conscious people are eating fast food more often than they used to, and casual dining locations are taking a hit.

In 2015, only 14% of fitness enthusiasts dined most often at fast food restaurants. Fast-forward to data from the last 90 days, and that number has risen to 17%, an 18% increase. More startling might be the fall of casual restaurants in the same time period–a 25% drop in frequent diners.

Past 90 Day Diners

2015 Diners

So what might’ve changed in this period for fitness enthusiasts about fast food? The menu offerings, and more specifically, the way menu items are made. As mentioned above, McDonald’s has made an effort to incorporate health-minded practices into the menu items it creates. Sure, Big Macs are still the top seller, but they are preservative free or all natural.

Fitness enthusiasts prioritize organic and all-natural, two very different designations, similarly. With McDonald’s menu rebranding, it’s not hard to see why healthier eaters are gravitating back to the brand. It looks as though it’s not so much about the menu item being the healthiest (i.e. a salad instead of a hamburger), but that the menu item is healthier (all-natural rather than not).

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