Sorry for interrupting, this website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Learn more
Accept & Close

Casual Dining - US - November 2009

With the recession in full swing, the casual dining sector has suffered across the board. Strategy has turned sharply from expanding capacity to stealing share from competitors. Unit counts for leading chains are on the downswing. In this report, Mintel examines the impact of recession on casual dining chains and how they are trying to stem further sales decline.

Analysis and insights offered include:

  • Why profit margins are being squeezed
  • Which menu items are most often ordered at a leading casual brand
  • How leading chains are addressing the problem of differentiation
  • How the damage of price promotions to brand equity can be limited
  • Which demographics are most likely to be spending more than last year on casual dining
  • Which motivations for using casual restaurants are strongest
  • Which chains appeal more strongly to the wealthiest diners

What you get

What's included

Why buy from us?

Succeed

Our reports will provide you with market data, consumer research and competitive intelligence to succeed in your market.

Instant Access

Buy now and you'll have instant access to the information you need to make the right decisions.

Opportunities

Find out what's next in the markets that matter to you: where opportunities lie and what challenges you will face.

Trusted

A business Superbrand, Mintel is a source you can trust. We have been defining and refining the Market Intelligence mix since 1972.

Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Sales data
            • Mintel Menu Insights
              • Consumer survey data
                • Advertising creative
                  • Abbreviations and terms
                    • Abbreviations
                      • Terms
                      • Executive Summary

                        • Casual dining market stagnates as spending bubble is burst
                          • Industry under pressure from both revenue and expense sides
                            • Leading chains turn in mixed performance as unit expansion slows
                              • Olive Garden remains a standout concept
                                • Applebee’s draws customers with appetizers and steak/burger options
                                  • Top chains appeal most to upper middle incomes, leaving highest earners to premium concepts
                                    • Aggressive pricing strategies threaten brand equity
                                      • Advertising focuses on price points, some differentiate with imagery
                                        • Innovators focus on flavors as a premium
                                          • Casual restaurants show strongest penetration among under-35s and higher earners
                                            • Price and proximity are key factors in restaurant selection
                                              • Word of mouth from family and friends more important than traditional advertising
                                                • Casual dining driven by celebrations and treating oneself
                                                • Insights and Opportunities

                                                  • Moving from general to specific appeal will better attract diners
                                                    • More specific targeting
                                                      • Figure 1: Reasons consumers eat out at casual restaurants, July 2009
                                                    • Adapting to local demographics
                                                      • Under-35s more likely to spend more
                                                        • Figure 2: Reasons consumers eat out at casual restaurants, by age, July 2009
                                                    • Inspire Insights

                                                        • Inspire trend: Smart Shopping Gets Smarter
                                                          • These days, smart shopping can be its own reward.
                                                            • Supporting evidence
                                                              • Implications
                                                                • Inspire trend: Death of the Middle Ground
                                                                  • Does the middle equal the mediocre?
                                                                    • Implications
                                                                    • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                      • Casual dining market stagnates as consumers pull back
                                                                        • Figure 3: Total U.S. systemwide sales of casual dining chains, at current prices, 2005-13
                                                                        • Figure 4: Total U.S. systemwide sales of casual dining chains, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2005-12
                                                                      • Poor same-store sales performance not necessarily tied to price points
                                                                        • Figure 5: Selected casual dining same-store sales, 2006-09
                                                                    • Competitive Context

                                                                      • Away-from-home food spending returns to 2004 levels
                                                                        • Figure 6: Share of at-home and away-from-home food spending, 2004-08
                                                                      • Growth expected in lower-priced food sectors
                                                                        • Figure 7: Trends in systemwide sales of casual dining, fast casual, and QSR chains, 2006-09
                                                                        • Figure 8: Usage of restaurant segments in past three months, by HH income, July 2009
                                                                      • Addendum: Consumer question explanation
                                                                      • Segment Performance

                                                                        • Introduction
                                                                          • Italian and steakhouse segments gain share while rest show sales decline
                                                                            • Figure 9: U.S. systemwide sales of leading casual dining chains, segmented by menu type, 2006 and 2008
                                                                        • Segment Performance—Contemporary American

                                                                          • Unit expansion hides greater declines in sales per unit for some segment leaders
                                                                            • Figure 10: U.S. systemwide sales of leading contemporary American casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                            • Figure 11: U.S. systemwide units and sales per unit of leading contemporary American casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                        • Segment Performance—Italian

                                                                          • Olive Garden and California Pizza Kitchen show strength in concept
                                                                            • Figure 12: U.S. systemwide sales of leading Italian casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                            • Figure 13: U.S. systemwide units and sales per unit of leading Italian casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                        • Segment Performance—Steakhouse

                                                                          • Outback continues to lose ground to rapidly expanding competitors
                                                                            • Figure 14: U.S. systemwide sales of leading steakhouse casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                            • Figure 15: U.S. systemwide units and sales per unit of leading steakhouse casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                        • Segment Performance—Seafood

                                                                          • Red Lobster dominates but Bonefish Grill gains most share
                                                                            • Figure 16: U.S. systemwide sales of leading seafood casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                            • Figure 17: U.S. systemwide units and sales per unit of leading seafood casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                        • Segment Performance—Ethnic

                                                                          • P.F. Chang’s pulls segment up despite declining sales per unit
                                                                            • Figure 18: U.S. systemwide sales of leading ethnic casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                            • Figure 19: U.S. systemwide units and sales per unit of leading ethnic casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                        • Market Drivers

                                                                          • Restaurant industry recession continues, but the bottom may be in sight
                                                                            • Figure 20: Restaurant Performance Index, current situation, and expectations, May 2007-July 2009
                                                                          • Consumer confidence undermines willingness to spend at restaurants
                                                                              • Figure 21: Consumer Sentiment Index, by quarter, 2001-09
                                                                            • Nearly half of casual restaurant users are spending less than last year
                                                                                • Figure 22: Casual restaurant spend compared to last year, by selected demographics, July 2009
                                                                              • Rising food prices pressure restaurant margins
                                                                                  • Figure 23: Growth in food consumer price index, 2005-09
                                                                                • Unit expansion will no longer drive growth in 2009
                                                                                    • Figure 24: Unit count for leading casual dining chains, 2007-09
                                                                                • Leading Companies

                                                                                  • Leading chains turn in mixed performance as expansion slows
                                                                                    • Figure 25: U.S. systemwide sales of segment-leading casual dining chains, 2006 and 2008
                                                                                • Restaurant Analysis: Applebee’s

                                                                                  • Performance summary
                                                                                    • Figure 26: Applebee’s systemwide same-store sales growth trends, 2005-09
                                                                                  • Core consumer groups
                                                                                    • Figure 27: Applebee’s, top demographics, February 2008-March 2009
                                                                                  • On the menu
                                                                                    • Figure 28: Applebee’s, top five cuisine types, Q3 2007-Q2 2009
                                                                                    • Figure 29: Applebee’s, selected new menu introductions, Q1 and Q2 2009
                                                                                • Restaurant Analysis: Chili’s

                                                                                  • Performance summary
                                                                                    • Figure 30: Chili’s systemwide same-store sales growth trends, 2006-09
                                                                                  • Core consumer groups
                                                                                    • Figure 31: Chili’s, top demographics, February 2008 - March 2009
                                                                                  • On the menu
                                                                                    • Figure 32: Chili’s, top five cuisine types, Q3 2007-Q2 2009
                                                                                    • Figure 33: Chili’s, selected new menu introductions, Q1 and Q2 2009
                                                                                • Restaurant Analysis: Outback Steakhouse

                                                                                  • Performance summary
                                                                                    • Figure 34: Outback Steakhouse’s systemwide sales growth trends, 2006-08
                                                                                  • Core consumer groups
                                                                                    • Figure 35: Outback Steakhouse, top demographics, February 2008 - March 2009
                                                                                  • On the menu
                                                                                    • Figure 36: Outback Steakhouse, top five cuisine types, Q3 2007-Q2 2009
                                                                                    • Figure 37: Outback Steakhouse, top five menu item dish introductions, Q1 and Q2 2009
                                                                                • Restaurant Analysis: Olive Garden

                                                                                  • Performance summary
                                                                                    • Figure 38: Olive Garden’s systemwide same-store sales growth trends, 2006-09
                                                                                  • Core consumer groups
                                                                                    • Figure 39: Olive Garden, top demographics, February 2008-March 2009
                                                                                  • On the menu
                                                                                    • Figure 40: Olive Garden, top cuisine types, Q3 2007-Q2 2009
                                                                                    • Figure 41: Olive Garden, top five menu item dish introductions, Q1 and Q2 2009
                                                                                • Restaurant Analysis: Red Lobster

                                                                                  • Performance summary
                                                                                    • Figure 42: Red Lobster systemwide same-store sales growth trends, 2006-09
                                                                                  • Core consumer groups
                                                                                    • Figure 43: Red Lobster, top demographics, February 2008-March 2009
                                                                                  • On the menu
                                                                                    • Figure 44: Red Lobster, top five cuisine types, Q3 2007-Q2 2009
                                                                                    • Figure 45: Red Lobster, top five menu item dish introductions, Q1 and Q2 2009
                                                                                • Restaurant Analysis: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

                                                                                  • Performance summary
                                                                                    • Figure 46: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro systemwide same-store sales growth trends, 2007-09
                                                                                  • Core consumer groups
                                                                                    • Figure 47: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, top demographics, February 2008-March 2009
                                                                                  • On the menu
                                                                                    • Figure 48: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, top five cuisine types, Q3 2007-Q2 2009
                                                                                    • Figure 49: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, top five menu item dish introductions, Q1 and Q2 2009
                                                                                • Menu Analysis: Applebee’s

                                                                                    • Appetizers and steak/burger options are key draws
                                                                                      • Figure 50: Menu ordering behavior on last visit, Applebee’s, July 2009
                                                                                    • Salads for women, red meat for men
                                                                                      • Figure 51: Menu ordering behavior on last visit, Applebee’s, by gender, July 2009
                                                                                    • Boomers may be attracted by quality steak/seafood entrées, salads, and coffee
                                                                                      • Figure 52: Menu ordering behavior on last visit, Applebee’s, by age, July 2009
                                                                                  • Restaurant Brand Qualities

                                                                                      • Meal promotions endanger brand equity and teeter on price war
                                                                                      • Advertising and Promotion

                                                                                        • Adspend shows impact for some but not all leading chains
                                                                                          • Figure 53: Media expenditures for leading casual dining chains, 2007-08
                                                                                        • Applebee’s
                                                                                          • Figure 54: Applebee’s—Realburgers, April 2009
                                                                                        • Chili’s
                                                                                          • Figure 55: Chili’s—Fire-Grilled Quesadillas, May 2009
                                                                                        • T.G.I. Friday’s
                                                                                          • Figure 56: T.G.I. Friday’s—9 New Sandwiches and Salads, April 2009
                                                                                        • Olive Garden
                                                                                          • Figure 57: Olive Garden—Never-Ending Pasta Bowl, August 2009
                                                                                        • P.F. Chang’s and Romano’s Macaroni Grill
                                                                                          • Figure 58: P.F. Chang’s—Map of China, June 2009
                                                                                          • Figure 59: Romano’s Macaroni Grill—Pollo Caprese, June 2009
                                                                                      • Innovations and Innovators

                                                                                        • Exotic flavors give customers a reason not to cook for themselves
                                                                                          • Premium concept focuses on organic ingredients and global flavor
                                                                                            • Two new local concepts open mid-recession
                                                                                            • Casual Restaurant Usage

                                                                                              • Casual restaurants show strongest penetration among under-35s and higher earners
                                                                                                • Figure 60: Eaten at a casual restaurant in past three months, by selected demographics, July 2009
                                                                                              • Applebee’s ranked first by both sales and surveyed popularity
                                                                                                • Figure 61: Usage of leading casual restaurant chains, July 2009
                                                                                              • Top chains appeal most to upper middle incomes, leaving highest earners to premium concepts
                                                                                                • Figure 62: Usage of leading casual restaurant chains, by household income, July 2009
                                                                                            • Casual Restaurant Usage—Impact of Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                • Certain chains are more frequented by racial/Hispanic minorities
                                                                                                  • Figure 63: Top casual restaurant usage, by race/Hispanic origin, February 2008-March 2009
                                                                                                • Hispanics who speak mostly English at home more likely to use casual chains
                                                                                                  • Figure 64: Top casual restaurant usage—Hispanics, by language spoken in home, February 2008-March 2009
                                                                                              • Casual Restaurant Usage and Kids

                                                                                                • Family market important to casual restaurants but less so than for family or pizza chains
                                                                                                  • Figure 65: Likelihood of children going with parents to pizza, family, and casual restaurants, July 2009
                                                                                                • Higher earners and Hispanics are more likely to bring children to the restaurant
                                                                                                  • Figure 66: Likelihood of children going with parents to casual restaurants, by selected demographics, July 2009
                                                                                              • Casual Restaurant Decision Influencers

                                                                                                • Price and proximity are key factors in restaurant selection
                                                                                                  • Word of mouth from family and friends more important than traditional advertising
                                                                                                    • Figure 67: Factors influencing decision to go to pizza, family, or casual restaurant, July 2009
                                                                                                  • Females are more price-sensitive and more likely to spread the word
                                                                                                    • Figure 68: Factors influencing decision to go to a casual restaurant, by gender, July 2009
                                                                                                  • Under-35s more influenced by advertising while over-45s look for proximity
                                                                                                    • Figure 69: Factors influencing decision to go to a casual restaurant, by age, July 2009
                                                                                                • Casual Restaurants: Reasons Consumers Choose Them

                                                                                                  • Casual dining driven by celebrations and treating oneself
                                                                                                      • Figure 70: Reasons to eat out at pizza, family, and casual restaurants, July 2009
                                                                                                    • 25-34s and higher earners most likely to be too busy to cook
                                                                                                        • Figure 71: Reasons to eat out at casual restaurants, by age, July 2009
                                                                                                        • Figure 72: Reasons to eat out at casual restaurants, by HH income, July 2009
                                                                                                    • Casual Restaurants: Usage by Daypart

                                                                                                      • Casual restaurants popular for dinner but not for snacks
                                                                                                        • Figure 73: Daypart for eating at pizza, family, and casual restaurants, July 2009
                                                                                                    • Casual Restaurants: Pickup and Delivery

                                                                                                      • Under-35s are much more likely to use takeout services
                                                                                                        • Figure 74: Ways to purchase food from casual restaurants, by age, July 2009
                                                                                                    • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                        • High Diners
                                                                                                          • Specialists
                                                                                                            • Infrequents
                                                                                                              • Opportunity
                                                                                                                • Cluster characteristics
                                                                                                                  • Figure 75: Casual dining clusters, July 2009
                                                                                                                  • Figure 76: Casual restaurant spend compared to last year, by casual dining clusters, July 2009
                                                                                                                  • Figure 77: Factors influencing decision to go to a casual restauarant, by casual dining clusters, July 2009
                                                                                                                  • Figure 78: Reasons to eat out at casual restaurants, by casual dining clusters, July 2009
                                                                                                                  • Figure 79: Daypart for eating at a casual restaurant, by casual dining clusters, July 2009
                                                                                                                  • Figure 80: Ways to purchase food from casual restaurants, by casual dining clusters, July 2009
                                                                                                                • Cluster demographics
                                                                                                                  • Figure 81: Casual dining clusters, by gender, July 2009
                                                                                                                  • Figure 82: Casual dining clusters, by age, July 2009
                                                                                                                  • Figure 83: Casual dining clusters, by houseold income, July 2009
                                                                                                                  • Figure 84: Casual dining clusters, by race, July 2009
                                                                                                                  • Figure 85: Casual dining clusters, by Hispanic origin, July 2009
                                                                                                                • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                                • Appendix: Other consumer tables

                                                                                                                  • Coupons more of a factor for higher-income households
                                                                                                                      • Figure 86: Factors influencing decision to go to a casual restaurant, by HH income, July 2009
                                                                                                                    • Gender matters—a wider range of reasons
                                                                                                                      • Figure 87: Reasons to eat out at casual restaurants, by gender, July 2009
                                                                                                                  • Appendix: Trade Associations

                                                                                                                    Companies Covered

                                                                                                                    • Burger King Corporation
                                                                                                                    • Del Taco, Inc.
                                                                                                                    • Food Distributors International
                                                                                                                    • Food Marketing Institute
                                                                                                                    • Greenfield Online
                                                                                                                    • International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA)
                                                                                                                    • International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA)
                                                                                                                    • International Franchise Association (IFA)
                                                                                                                    • International Monetary Fund
                                                                                                                    • McDonald's Corporation
                                                                                                                    • National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR)
                                                                                                                    • National Nutritional Foods Association
                                                                                                                    • National Restaurant Association (NRA)
                                                                                                                    • National Retail Federation (NRF)
                                                                                                                    • Organic Trade Association
                                                                                                                    • Pizza Hut Inc
                                                                                                                    • Starbucks Corporation
                                                                                                                    • Taco Bell Corp.
                                                                                                                    • Twitter, Inc.
                                                                                                                    • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                                                                                                    • U.S. Department of Agriculture
                                                                                                                    • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                                                                    Casual Dining - US - November 2009

                                                                                                                    £3,174.67 (Excl.Tax)