Is fast food the secret of love?

The Valentine’s Day brand winners in 2018

Ah, food. Famously the way to your loved one’s heart. Thankfully for the budget-conscious, it seems the days of having to fork out for fancy meals in high-end restaurants may be over.

Valentine’s Day 2018 saw a number of UK brands step up to the plate with romance-themed campaigns in an effort to win the affections of the British dining public. However, those that captured the most British hearts came from the fast-food and convenience side of the market, including McDonalds and high street bakery brand Greggs.

Being both foodies and romantics at heart, Quantcast took a quick look at our data, based on live insights from more than 100 million mobile and web destinations, to see see how the Valentine’s Day campaigns that these brands served up allowed them to capture the minds of consumers, and how they were received.

Fast food wins as Greggs and McDonalds come out on top
Humble provider of steak bakes for the masses, Greggs the baker seems to have come out on top when it comes to capturing the imagination of hungry loved-up consumers, closely followed by McDonalds. More than four times as many people searched for Greggs and Valentine’s Day compared to searches for McDonalds and Valentine’s Day. This compares to the famous golden arches seeing 3x more volume in searches normally.

Food still the way to a man’s heart?
While the typical Valentine’s day searcher is female between the ages of 18-34, the Greggs campaign seems to have landed successfully among a male demographic, with the typical searcher being male and over 45 years old. Conversely, those searching for McDonalds and Valentine’s day were more likely to be female and aged between 35-54.

Insights for brands looking to tie to key calendar moments
So what made Greggs so successful? It’s cheeky brand personality and self-aware approach contrasted nicely with the traditional image of Valentine’s. The tie-in with OpenTable created a smart mechanic for the campaign while adding further credibility. The image of romantic couples enjoying candlelit dinners in its branches were apparently enough to raise a smile or two, and for reporters to pick up their pens. An example of how the right moment and execution can help smaller national brands serve up a tasty win against larger global competitors.

Notes on the data
Quantcast draws live audience insights from more than 100 million web and mobile destinations worldwide. This analysis is based on Quantcast data pulled the week of Valentine’s Day, 2018. Trends shows are based on a comparison to overall searches for Valentine’s Day.