New Yorkers Love Chipotle: A new study on foot traffic

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New Yorkers Love Chipotle: A new study on foot traffic
Mike Buttigieg
Mike Buttigieg
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New York City has more than 8,000 restaurants with cuisines from all around the world, but we all enjoy a guilty pleasure from one of our favorite fast food chains. Using our proprietary location data technology, we tracked unique foot traffic patterns over a two-week period at Burger King, Chipotle, KFC, McDonalds, and Taco Bell locations across New York City’s five boroughs.

In the city where food options are endless, at all hours of the day, for some New Yorkers, quick and easy sometimes is best. Here are some of the more interesting insights we found:

Chipotle is NYC’s most popular fast food chain

In NYC, Chipotle has a stronghold throughout the city, regardless of the company’s ongoing food safety issues. The Mexican chain saw a total of 405,000 unique visitors across all locations and boroughs throughout the duration of the study. Monday afternoons in Manhattan are the busiest time periods for Chipotle, with almost double the foot traffic of NYC’s second favorite fast food chain, McDonalds. During this peak time, Chipotle is pulling in close to 100,000 unique visitors across all boroughs–a lot of burritos!

Want to reach Staten Islanders? Focus on McDonalds

With the smallest population, it’s no surprise that this borough has the lowest foot traffic of all, but our data tells us that McDonalds is where the money is being spent on Staten Island. Burger King is the second most popular fast food chain in the borough, with an average of 400 unique visitors during the hours of noon and 4pm across all locations in Staten Island. During the same time period, McDonalds has almost double the amount of visitors, which supports our next unique insight on New Yorkers’ favorite burger chain.

Battle of the burgers: McDonalds beats out the king

Burger King may deem itself royalty, but New Yorkers think otherwise. According to our study of McDonalds stores monitored in Manhattan, the locations bring in more than 200,000 unique visitors during peak lunchtime hours. That’s an impressive number from a legacy chain that faces stiff competition from the likes of Shake Shack and Five Guys, among others, and it shows that consumers are resonating with what they’re selling. With a consistent influx of traffic between the hours of 2pm-7pm across the five boroughs, the burger chain isn’t only luring New Yorkers during lunchtime while in Manhattan. Locations in Brooklyn and other boroughs see a higher uptick in foot traffic during dinner, as well.

No one seems to have tacos for breakfast! Across all locations and boroughs, Taco Bell was the least visited store with 20,000 unique visitors. During the morning hours, the foot traffic is half of what it typically is during the afternoon hours of 12pm-5pm. Brooklyn showed the most love to the chain, with Manhattan a close second. New York is a competitive city that’s clearly chosen Chipotle to fulfill its Tex Mex cravings, but that doesn’t mean Taco Bell is out for the count. The chain is planning to expand the number of stores in NYC and, based on our data, the company would be wise to use location insights to prioritize staffing needs. For example, Taco Bell may want to invest more employee resources at locations in other boroughs over those in Staten Island, particularly in Manhattan during the lunch rush (although other boroughs do have higher visits at dinner).

By understanding borough locations and at what specific stores consumers are eating at via location and behavioral data, these brands can create more targeted and highly personalized ads, increasing the likelihood of conversion. This is especially true when using retargeting methods. For example, if McDonalds knows that a consumer has been to its location recently, the brand should send the customer an offer based on what he or she ordered last time when within range of the store to entice them back in.

With the use of location data, these fast food marketers can understand the needs of individual locations as well as identify and reach their target audiences–which, in this case, means making sure every New Yorker is able to enjoy their lunchtime Chipotle burrito.

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Mike Buttigieg

Mike Buttigieg

Senior Sales Director | Blis Michael Buttigieg is Senior Sales Director at Blis, the global pioneer in location data. Having been at Blis since 2013, Buttigieg moved out to New York in 2016 to help establish Blis’ New York office where he specialises in the sales of Blis’ proprietary technology and platform.