Chick-fil-A has come out on top of the list of favorite chicken chains, according to a national study from Market Force and reported in QSR magazine.  Chick-fil-A was voted America’s number one chicken chain in a restaurant industry survey of more than 7,600 consumers.  Raising Cane’s and Boston Market were ranked second and third, followed by El Pollo Loco, Zaxby’s, Popeyes, KFC, Wingstop, and Church’s Chicken.

The study was designed to uncover which chicken chains consumers like most and why they prefer one to the other.  Market Force first calculated the favorites based on the total number of votes, and then factored in the number of locations for each chain for a more level view of the results.  Of the 12 major national and regional chicken chains studied, KFC received the most total votes, which can be attributed to the fact that it is one of the nation’s largest restaurant franchises.  However, when viewed as a calculation of favorite votes per location, Chick-fil-A took the top spot.

Chick-fil-A, with more than 1,600 locations in 39 states, has steadily captured market share from industry-leader KFC by focusing on delivering a simple and tasteful chicken sandwich.  Regional restaurant chains like Raising Cane’s and Zaxby’s, both of which specialize in chicken fingers, are also experiencing a surge in popularity in the rapidly growing poultry market.

Market Force also analyzed the results geographically to see which chicken chains are most popular in the four regions of the country–the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.

Chick-fil-A was top in all regions except the South where it was edged out by Raising Cane’s.  Boston Market also had a strong showing with a top-three ranking in every region.  Popeyes was third in the Northeast and fourth in the West.  Also making an appearance in the West was El Pollo Loco, which is headquartered in Orange County.

Market Force also asked consumers to rank the chicken chains based on attributes including food quality and taste, customer service, cleanliness, atmosphere, and overall value.  Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane’s were the overwhelming favorites across the board.  Chick-fil-A scored first place for its customer service, high value, and cleanliness, while Raising Cane’s snagged the top spots for food and atmosphere.

Zaxby’s ranked third in every category and Wingstop ranked fourth across the board.  El Pollo Loco and Church’s Chicken scored fairly high in the important food and value categories, while KFC ranked in ninth place in both of those categories.

The survey was conducted in August 2012 across the United States.  The pool of 7,600 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with half reporting houshold incomes of more than $50,000 a year.  Respondent ages ranged fromf 19 to over 65.