McDonald's and Starbucks: 43% Yin, 35% Yang

Feb 10, 2009

McDonald's and Starbucks are the yin and yang of franchise food and drink. While both are iconic American brands, each appeals to different lifestyles, budgets and, yes, even political ideologies.

How different? A Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey on where Americans would like to live included the following question: "Just for fun: Would you prefer to live in a place with more McDonald's or more Starbucks?"

The Golden Arches won the head-to-head contest by 43%-35% (the remainder had no preference) in a telephone survey among a nationally representative sample of 2,260 adults conducted from Oct. 3 through Oct. 19, 2008.

But those numbers tell only part of the story. In this smackdown between Big Macs and caffe lattes, Americans manage to typecast themselves by just about every demographic and ideological characteristic under the sun.

Where to start? Well, ever heard the phrase: "latte-drinking liberal"? Evidently there's something to it. Among self-described liberals, Starbucks carries the day, 46%-33%. Among conservatives, McDonald's prevails, 50%-28%. Moderates, you guessed it, fall in between: McDonald's draws 44% and Starbucks 37%.

The pattern by political party is similar, if not quite as polarized. McDonald's wins among Republicans, Democrats and independents. However, its margin is much greater among the GOP (+20 percentage points) than among the other two groups (each +3 percentage points).

Read the full report McDonald's and Starbucks: 43% Yin, 35% Yang on the Pew Research Center's Web site.

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