Millennials are beefing up restaurant brands, awarding higher than average brand equity (4.7 points) to coffee shops, QSRs, casual-dining and chicken chains, according to new research from The Harris Poll's 29th annual EquiTrend Study.

The study, which measures brand health over time, also indicates that fast-casual Mexican and pizza chains (-7.6 and -8.0, respectively) have notably lower ratings among Baby Boomers.

Since brand equity tends to resist movement, the equity gains and declines among restaurant brands is significant, according to Harris Poll research.

“Restaurants continue to adapt to the Millennial lifestyle, and advancements in ordering methods such as Starbucks' mobile app and Chick-fil-A’s ‘Mom Valet’ are likely influencing Millennials' higher brand equity scores,” said Joan Sinopoli, vice president of brand solutions at The Harris Poll. "While the millennial dollar is powerful and attractive — and many are clearly enjoying their rising disposable income — Baby Boomers already have the cash to spend on meals out and need to be courted. The Baby Boomer versus Millennial gap among pizza chains and Mexican restaurants may reflect boomers’ needs to eat healthier and the fact that they no longer have kid palates to please — and that signals opportunity for restaurants on the healthier end of the chain continuum to target them in their messaging and menu offerings."

The EquiTrend Brand Equity Index consists of three factors — familiarity, quality and purchase consideration — that result in a brand equity rating for each brand. Brands ranking highest in equity receive the Harris Poll EquiTrend “Brand of the Year” award for their respective categories. This year, more than 100,000 U.S. consumers assessed more than 4,000 brands (including 90 restaurant brands) across more than 450 categories.