Fast Casual Restaurants - The U.S. landscape according to consumers and restaurant operators

Dec 2016| MDK015A| Datassential

Report Highlights

Fast casual consumers tend to be frequent users of the segment, with over half visiting fast casual restaurants weekly or more often. Younger consumers are even more frequent visitors, while older consumers visit fast casuals less often.

Fast casuals are most frequented for lunch and dinner. Breakfast has the highest number of consumers visiting every day, but also nearly half never visit a fast casual for breakfast.

Fast casual consumers are generally expecting their usage of the segment to stay the same, with the greatest increase in usage expected for lunch and dinner.

The fast casual consumer is most likely to say they are someone who is excited by food, but not a “foodie”. They also try to generally eat healthy without paying close attention to their diet, although there are major generational differences in food attitudes and diet.

Consumers think that food being made fresh to-order is the top factor that distinguishes a fast casual from a fast food restaurant. Consumers don’t necessarily expect or need the food to be prepared in front of them. Staff bringing food out to tables and a higher price point are differentiators for over one-third of fast casual consumers.

There is a wide range of scratch prep and culinary skill among fast casual operators. Just 12% use a commissary to prepare items today, but an additional 9% are planning to start using one.

Fast casuals have many sources of competition. Fast casuals see other fast casual restaurants as their top competitor, but fast food, takeout, and casual dining are each seen as a source of competition to over one-third of operators.

Shed light on one of the fastest changing segments in foodservice with Datassential’s Fast Casual Keynote. Over 200 fast casual operators and over 2,000 fast casual consumers weigh in on their attitudes and behaviors around fast casuals, providing data and insights into what is happening in fast casual today and what is next for this recent hotbed of foodservice growth. Plus, we tapped our MenuTrends database to pull the hottest flavors and ingredients on fast casual menus so you don’t miss a beat. You’ll learn from the experts about…

The Fast Casual Consumer
Uncover how the fast casual consumer defines the segment, their usage frequency, and what they like most about fast casuals. In addition, conjoint analysis determines not just what consumers say they want, but how they make tradeoffs when deciding where to dine.

The Fast Casual Operator
Learn what drives operators’ choices and what suppliers can do to satisfy their needs. Uncover top challenges; operators’ outlook for the future; and how mission, brand, decor, and employees are a key part of fast casuals.

Fast Casual Menus & Service Formats
Dive into offerings, including unique item opportunities, the role of LTOs/specials, menu change frequency, and service format availability. See what inspires new menu items and what has been happening to menu prices, plus top trending flavors and ingredients.

Other Key Elements the Fast Casual Segment
Take a detailed look at promotions and marketing (including social media), delivery, elements of successful chain menu introductions, and select best-in-class operator profiles.

Datassential, a Chicago-based food industry research and consulting firm, brings clients real-world information on foodservice and consumer packaged goods in the U.S. and around the world. The company’s services, including its extensive MenuTrends database, provide in-depth reporting on trends in menu offerings, flavor profiles, ingredients and preparations. Datassential helps operators, retailers, and suppliers understand and capitalize on these important trends.

Datassential makes the food industry smarter. We provide trend software, predictive analytics, and consumer insights that help manufacturers, food retailers, and chain restaurants innovate and sell more intelligently.

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