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Dining Out: A 2015 Look Ahead - US - January 2015

“Rising commodity prices have forced foodservice operators to increase menu prices during a time when many consumers are still budget-conscious. However, one demographic that is faring better is men. The changing American family structure has resulted in more fathers taking their children out to eat. Like other demographics, fathers are interested in healthy foods and this is tied to a rising consciousness about the origin of foods and a desire to eat more healthfully.”
– Julia Gallo-Torres, Sr. Foodservice Analyst

This report discusses the following key topics:

  • How do foodservice operators keep consumers interested in their offerings, when food prices continue to climb?
  • How to cater to dads, the parent who plans to visit restaurants with children more often in 2015?
  • Consumers want healthier and safe foods
This report focuses on consumer attitudes and behavior with respect to dining out at full-service and limited-service restaurants. In addition to exploring current tendencies and trends, it also reveals what consumer dining-out plans are for 2015.

This report focuses on the full- and limited-service foodservice segments. The market-size estimates in this report cover full-service restaurants, limited-service restaurants, and other limited-service eating places. 

An expanding job market and a bump in disposable income at the end of 2014 led to more economic confidence for consumers who enjoy dining out. However, America’s uneven economic recovery means that, for many, dining out continues to be a luxury they cannot yet afford regularly. Thus, freshly prepared meals and components, as well as a slew of restaurant-quality frozen offerings by retailers, continues to be a major threat. These products’ better quality and affordability makes them a compelling way for consumers to save money, while enjoying a restaurant-like experience.

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Sales data
            • Consumer survey data
              • Abbreviations and terms
                • Abbreviations
                  • Terms
                  • Executive Summary

                      • The market
                        • Total US restaurant sales and forecast, 2009-19
                          • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of Full- and Limited-service restaurants at current prices, 2009-19
                        • Total US full-service restaurant sales and forecast, 2009-19
                          • Figure 2: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of full-service restaurants at current prices, 2009-19
                        • Total US limited-service restaurant sales and forecast, 2009-19
                          • Figure 3: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of limited-service restaurants at current prices, 2009-19
                        • Market drivers
                          • Competitive context
                            • The consumer
                              • Women rely on deals and discounts more than men
                                • Figure 4: Types of food and drink ordered – Any interest, by gender, October 2014
                              • Parents have more restaurant criteria than non-parents
                                • Figure 5: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                              • Most restaurant diners order food
                                • Figure 6: Part of menu consumers choose, October 2014 
                              • What we think
                              • Issues and Insights

                                  • How do foodservice operators keep consumers interested in their offerings, when food prices continue to climb?
                                    • The issues
                                      • The implications
                                        • How to cater to dads, the parent who plans to visit restaurants with children more often in 2015?
                                          • The issues
                                            • The implications
                                              • Consumers want healthier and safe foods
                                                • The issues
                                                  • The implications
                                                  • Trend Application

                                                      • Trend: Factory Fear
                                                        • Trend: Power of One
                                                          • Trend: Click and Connect
                                                          • Market Size and Forecast

                                                            • Key points
                                                              • Sales and forecast of total US restaurant sales, at current prices
                                                                • Figure 7: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and other eating places, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                              • Sales and forecast of total US sales of restaurants, at inflation-adjusted prices
                                                                • Figure 8: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and other eating places, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2009-19
                                                              • Sales and forecast of total market, by segment
                                                                • Figure 9: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and other eating places, by segment, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                              • FSRs have larger market share than LSRs
                                                                • Figure 10: Total US sales of restaurants and other eating places, by segment, at current prices, 2012 and 2014
                                                              • Full-service restaurants
                                                                • Figure 11: Total US sales and forecast of full-service restaurants, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                                • Figure 12: Total US sales and forecast of full-service restaurants, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2009-19
                                                              • Limited-service restaurants
                                                                • Figure 13: Total US sales and forecast of limited-service eating places, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                                • Figure 14: Total US sales and forecast of limited-service eating places, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2009-19
                                                              • Specialty types of LSRs demonstrate steady growth
                                                                • Figure 15: Total US sales and forecast of limited-service eating places, by type, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                              • Fan chart forecasts
                                                                • Fan chart forecast for total restaurant sales
                                                                  • Figure 16: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of Full- and Limited-service restaurants at current prices, 2009-19
                                                                • Fan chart forecast for full-service restaurant sales
                                                                  • Figure 17: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of Full-service restaurants at current prices, 2009-19
                                                                • Fan chart forecast for limited-service restaurant sales
                                                                  • Figure 18: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of limited-service restaurants at current prices, 2009-19
                                                              • Market Drivers

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • FDA finally approved menu labeling laws
                                                                    • Restaurant employees demand higher wages
                                                                      • Unemployment decreases, but consumers still spend cautiously
                                                                        • Figure 19: Unemployment rate and underemployment, January 2007-October 2014
                                                                      • Millennials are the most frequent visitors to restaurants and culturally diverse
                                                                        • Figure 20: US population, by generation share, 2014
                                                                      • Consumer confidence on an upswing, but how long will it last?
                                                                        • Figure 21: Consumer confidence index, January 2009-March 2014
                                                                      • Disposable income rose in October 2014
                                                                        • Figure 22: Real disposable personal income, January 2007-October 2014
                                                                      • The NRA’s Performance Index is up
                                                                        • Figure 23: National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index
                                                                    • Competitive Context

                                                                      • Key points
                                                                        • Food away from home sales are growing
                                                                          • Figure 24: Monthly retail sales for food at home and food away from home, 2010-14
                                                                        • Consumers eat retail to save money, but want restaurant-quality foods
                                                                          • Full-service restaurants respond to fast casual competition with their own limited-service concepts
                                                                            • Obesity still a concern, though focus on young children shows progress
                                                                              • Figure 25: Prevalence of obesity by gender and age group, among adults age 20 and over, US 2011-12
                                                                          • Marketing Strategies

                                                                            • Overview
                                                                              • Corporate/restaurant transparency
                                                                                • Corporate/restaurant responsibility
                                                                                  • Technology to better the dining-out experience
                                                                                    • Adapting to the local community
                                                                                      • Pricing promotions
                                                                                      • Consumer Data – Overview

                                                                                          • The majority of consumers plan to spend the same in 2015
                                                                                              • Figure 26: Types of food and drink ordered – Any interest, by spend – Dining out plans in 2015, October 2014
                                                                                              • Figure 27: Spend – Dining out plans in 2015, October 2014
                                                                                              • Figure 28: Attitudes towards spending in 2015, October 2014
                                                                                            • Word-of-mouth more important to diners than restaurant reviews; most purchase food
                                                                                                • Figure 29: Part of menu consumers choose, October 2014
                                                                                                • Figure 30: How consumers choose restaurants, October 2014
                                                                                                • Figure 31: Desired restaurant characteristics, October 2014
                                                                                            • Consumer Data – By Gender

                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                • Men have more disposable income than women
                                                                                                    • Figure 32: Desired restaurant characteristics – Very important, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                    • Figure 33: Types of food and drink ordered – Any interest, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                    • Figure 34: How consumers choose restaurants, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                  • Men plan to dine out and spend more than women in 2015
                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Spend – Dining out plans in 2015, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                      • Figure 36: Frequency – Dining out plans in 2015, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                    • Women order sandwiches and salads, while men order breakfast foods
                                                                                                        • Figure 37: Part of menu consumers choose, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                        • Figure 38: Restaurant/food outlet usage, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                    • Consumer Data – By Age

                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                        • 25-34-year-olds have growing interest in specialty snack shops; casual dining struggles with attracting younger segment
                                                                                                            • Figure 39: Restaurant/food outlet usage, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                            • Figure 40: Part of menu consumers choose, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                          • Those 18-24 don’t like restrictions on saving money; those aged 65+ show least concern with health
                                                                                                              • Figure 41: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 42: Types of food and drink ordered – Have tried, would try again, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                            • Those in the 25-34 age group plan to dine out more often in 2015; 18-24-year-olds suffering higher levels of unemployment
                                                                                                                • Figure 43: Frequency – Dining out plans in 2015, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                • Figure 44: Spend – Dining out plans in 2015, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                • Figure 45: Attitudes towards spending in 2015, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                            • Consumer Data – By Generation

                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                • iGeneration/Millennials focused on saving, while avoiding sacrifice
                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Types of food and drink ordered – Have tried, would try again, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Restaurant/food outlet usage, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                  • Older Millennials have a variety of considerations, when deciding where to dine out
                                                                                                                      • Figure 48: Part of menu consumers choose, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                      • Figure 49: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                      • Figure 50: How consumers choose restaurants, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                    • iGeneration/Millennials plan to bring food to work more in 2015, in order to save money
                                                                                                                        • Figure 51: Frequency – Dining out plans in 2015, by generation, October 2014
                                                                                                                        • Figure 52: Spend – Dining out plans in 2015, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                        • Figure 53: Attitudes towards spending in 2015, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                    • Consumer Data – By Income

                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                        • Focus on nutrition/health rises with income
                                                                                                                            • Figure 54: Types of food and drink ordered – Have tried, would try again, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                            • Figure 55: Part of menu consumers choose, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                            • Figure 56: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                          • Lower-income respondents plan to spend less and higher incomes plan to spend about the same in 2015
                                                                                                                              • Figure 57: Spend – Dining out plans in 2015, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                          • Consumer Data – By Race

                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                              • Black iGeneration/Millennials are an important restaurant demographic
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 58: Restaurant/food outlet usage, by race, October 2014
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 59: Part of menu consumers choose, by race, October 2014
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 60: Types of food and drink ordered – Any interest, by race, October 2014
                                                                                                                                • Blacks plan to bring their food to work more in 2015 to save money
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 61: Attitudes towards spending in 2015, by race, October 2014
                                                                                                                              • Consumer Data – By Hispanics

                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                  • Hispanics love burgers and breakfast
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 62: Restaurant/food outlet usage, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 63: Part of menu consumers choose, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 64: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Hispanics like to share their opinions on social media, and independently owned restaurants
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 65: How consumers choose restaurants, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 66: Types of food and drink ordered – Have tried, would try again, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 67: Attitudes towards spending in 2015, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                      • Hispanics plan to dine out and spend more in 2015
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 68: Frequency – Dining out plans in 2015, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 69: Spend – Dining out plans in 2015, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                      • Consumer Data – By Parents

                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                          • Men want dining experience to be the same, whether they are with their children or not
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 70: Frequency – Dining out plans in 2015, by gender and parent status, October 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 71: Frequency – Dining out plans in 2015, by gender and parent status, October 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 72: How consumers choose restaurants, by parent status, October 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 73: How consumers choose restaurants, by parent status, October 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 74: How consumers choose restaurants, by presence of children of in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 75: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Parents seek a variety of foods, and portability helps
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 76: Part of menu consumers choose, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 77: Restaurant/food outlet usage, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Parents are more sensitive to environmental and social issues
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 78: Frequency – Dining out plans in 2015, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 79: Spend – Dining out plans in 2015, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 80: Attitudes towards spending in 2015, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Consumer Data – By Region

                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                  • Northeasterners enjoy breakfast foods, while Westerners focus on social issues
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 81: Part of menu consumers choose, by region, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 82: Types of food and drink ordered – Have tried, would try again, by region, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 83: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by region, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 84: How consumers choose restaurants, by region, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Consumer Data – By Area

                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                      • Rural consumers trust opinions of friends and family more than restaurant reviews
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 85: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by area, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 86: How consumers choose restaurants, by area, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                        • Urbanites eat more breakfast foods
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 87: Part of menu consumers choose, by area, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Urbanites to spend more money and support social issues in 2015
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 88: Spend – Dining out plans in 2015, by area, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 89: Attitudes towards spending in 2015, by area, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Consumer Data – Overview

                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 90: Types of food and drink ordered – Have tried, would try again, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 91: Types of food and drink ordered – Any interest, by frequency – Dining out plans in 2015, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 92: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by part of menu consumers choose, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 93: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by part of menu consumers choose, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 94: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by part of menu consumers choose, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 95: How consumers choose restaurants, by purchase locations, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 96: How consumers choose restaurants, by purchase locations, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 97: How consumers choose restaurants, by purchase locations, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 98: Frequency – Dining out plans in 2015, by spend – Dining out plans in 2015, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 99: Types of food and drink ordered, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 100: Restaurant/food outlet usage, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Consumer Data – By Age

                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 101: Types of food and drink ordered – Any interest, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 102: How consumers choose restaurants, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Consumer Data – By Generation

                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 103: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by generations, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Consumer Data – By Income

                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 104: Restaurant/food outlet usage, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 105: How consumers choose restaurants, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Consumer Data – By Race

                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 106: Frequency – Dining out plans in 2015, by race, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 107: Spend – Dining out plans in 2015, by race, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 108: Desired restaurant characteristics – Very important, by race, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 109: Desired restaurant characteristics – Any important, by race, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Consumer Data – By Hispanics

                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 110: Desired restaurant characteristics – Very important, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 111: Types of food and drink ordered – Any interest, by Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Consumer Data – By Parents

                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 112: Types of food and drink ordered – Have tried, would try again, by presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 113: Restaurant/food outlet usage, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 114: Desired restaurant characteristics - Any important, by parents, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 115: Desired restaurant characteristics - Very important, by Parents, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Consumer Data – By Area

                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 116: Restaurant/food outlet usage, by area, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 117: Types of food and drink ordered – Have tried, would try again, by area, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                            Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                            To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                                                                                            Dining Out: A 2015 Look Ahead - US - January 2015

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