Do consumers view custom-order food at convenience stores as lesser, higher or equal quality to that of fast food?

We’ve researched this before, but wondered what we’d find if we looked at current results. So, we relaunched the question in late October, with a new sample of 1,959 US Adults weighted to the U.S. Census to see where things stood now. Here are the top-line numbers:

21% of U.S. Adults think made-to-order food is higher quality than fast food.

Sometimes (Next-To) No News is Good News

We found that opinion of convenience store food quality is just as high as 2014 — and is here to stay among the younger set. 53% of respondents think convenience store food is of equal or greater quality compared to fast food.

Though very slight, the percentage of people who think convenience store food is higher quality than fast food has grown since 2014. While it’s not huge growth, consistency doesn’t seem to be a bad thing. 

Also of note: a lesser percentage of consumers answered that they rarely / never eat at either type of establishment. Good news for both industries? We think so.


Like we said, the younger demographic is the best bet. Those 18-34 are much more likely to say they think convenience store food is of a higher quality than fast food, and we came to this conclusion before.


Social media is a key player in the convenience store food group.  While that’s a no-brainer given their age, we found those highly active on Twitter, those who choose products based on social media influence — and specifically electronic products — are more likely to think made-to-order convenience store goods are of higher quality.

While the age group makes this seem clear, it’s a good reminder for convenience store advertising — when both targeting new customers and retaining those who already frequent c-stores when looking for an on-the-go meal.

And perhaps those stores with touch-screen ordering can’t hurt for this device-driven group, either.


While looking at the US general population as a whole, people who live in the US Northeast are more likely to answer that made-to-order is the top quality. This could be purely based on the saturation of these stores in the region, but perhaps it’s a chance to expand, or drive awareness in another region?

And as of 2016, Who Doesn’t Eat at Either?

It’s still the older set (55+) who are more likely to say they don’t eat at c-stores or fast food chains. They also are much more likely to use a DVR, so maybe they are skipping the ads that promote these establishments, so the idea to go isn’t quite as front and center in their minds.

Where Does This Leave C-Stores (and Also Fast Food)?

While there’s not much of a change in opinion of quality when comparing the two types of chains, this is good news for both sides. The playing field of quality is pretty much viewed as equal by consumers, with a slight uptick in the convenience store food end.