Subway aims for a resurgence as decades of popularity fade
August 18th, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

Subway aims for a resurgence as decades of popularity fade

Subway has long been a familiar name for decades, but the largest restaurant chain in the US is grappling to reclaim its former popularity. YouGov data going back to 2007 reveals that in the two years following the pandemic, Subway faced challenges in declining consumer sentiment and consideration.

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Subway’s post-pandemic brand metrics have yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels

Subway’s Consideration scores (which are a measure of the share of consumers who would consider purchasing from a brand the next time they are in the market for food or drink), fell by 24% between the pre-pandemic period (2007-2019; average score of 43.1%) and post-pandemic (2021-2023; 31.3%).

Similarly, Subway’s Buzz score, a way to measure sentiment behind what people have heard about a brand, has fallen 18.4 points from 28.4 pre-pandemic to 10.4 post-pandemic in 2023. When dissecting Subway’s Buzz sentiment, it becomes evident that Subway's dwindling scores are primarily a result of fewer positive discussions about the brand, rather than negative sentiments dragging the scores down.

This reveals a glimmer of hope for Subway, as elevating its Buzz score hinges on fostering positive dialogues rather than addressing adverse perceptions.

Present-day transformation has paid off to some extent this summer

Subway’s recent woes are certainly not for lack of trying. In recent years Subway made efforts to revitalize its menu three times. The company added new ingredients to its pantry in 2021 and 12 new signature sandwiches in 2022, marking its most significant menu change in 57 years.

This year, Subway’s latest change includes bringing freshly sliced meats to its delis, an effort requiring Subway to reorganize its supply chain and install deli meat slicers in 20,000 locations across the US.

Since the start of summer, Subway has seen a boost in Advertising Awareness and Consideration, representing a boost in mental availability for the brand among US consumers.

In more recent news, Subway’s no. 2 executive is leaving the fast-food giant, even amid the prolonged auction for the company.

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Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash