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Dining Out: The Restaurant Decision-Making Process - US - July 2014

“The US restaurant industry is so large and mature that it’s increasingly difficult to carve out opportunities for growth. Operators must focus on differentiation, not only with menus but overall positioning. The answer may lie in even greater customization, with tailored restaurant concepts for niche audiences and for different day parts. They need to know who their core customer is and create an entire environment just for them.”
– Julia Gallo-Torres, Category Manager - Foodservice Reports

In this report, Mintel will specifically answer the following questions;

  • What types of restaurants are consumers visiting? How much do they spend at limited-service restaurants (LSRs) versus full-service restaurants (FSRs)? Do they prefer dining in or ordering food via drive-thru, takeout, or delivery?
  • Do consumers change their behaviors when choosing a restaurant for everyday usage as opposed to special occasions? If so, how different are behaviors between light and heavy restaurant-goers?
  • Other than good prices, food, and service, what do consumers want to see at restaurants? And what deters them from eating out?
  • How do consumers learn about restaurants that are new to them? And how influential is social media and referrals in the restaurant selection process?
  • What kinds of menu characteristics and options do diners find attractive?
  • What matters most to consumers when it comes to trying a restaurant for the first time?

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

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

                    • Market drivers
                        • Figure 1: US restaurant sales fan chart, 2009-19
                      • Restaurant usage
                        • Figure 2: Restaurant expenditures, November 2012-December 2013
                      • Where/how do consumers prefer to eat food
                        • Figure 3: Where consumers eat restaurant food, April 2014
                      • Demographics and restaurant behavior
                        • Gender
                          • Age
                            • Household income
                              • Household size
                                • Race/Hispanic origin
                                  • Drivers for new restaurant trial
                                    • Figure 4: Drivers for new restaurant trial, April 2014
                                  • What we think
                                  • Issues and Insights

                                      • Protein largely un- and under-marketed on restaurant menus
                                        • The issues
                                          • Tiered approach may maximize consumer appeal
                                            • The issues
                                            • Trend Application

                                                • Trend: Immaterial World
                                                  • Trend: FSTR HYPR
                                                    • Trend: The Nouveau Poor
                                                    • Market Drivers

                                                      • Key points
                                                        • Restaurants seeing slow, but sure, gains
                                                          • Restaurant sales and forecast
                                                            • Figure 5: US restaurant sales and forecast, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                            • Figure 6: US restaurant sales and forecast, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2009-19
                                                          • Restaurant sales by full-service and limited-service segments
                                                            • Figure 7: US restaurant sales by segment, at current prices, 2012 and 2014
                                                          • Rising food prices challenge operators
                                                            • Figure 8: Restaurant performance index, January 2012-March 2014
                                                            • Figure 9: Changes in Food Price Indexes, 2012 through 2014
                                                            • Figure 10: Restaurant menu price changes, year-over-year, March 2013-March 2014
                                                            • Figure 11: Consumer sentiment index, January 2012-May 2014
                                                            • Figure 12: Unemployment and underemployment rates, January 2007-April 2014
                                                          • Aging population will likely damper restaurant growth in the next decade
                                                            • Figure 13: US population by age, 2009-19
                                                        • Innovations and Innovators

                                                          • Fast-casual concept expansion full of fresh flavors and creativity
                                                            • YUM! explores premium
                                                              • Chipotle expands its Asian and Italian concepts
                                                                • Food trucks offer large operators a host of gains
                                                                  • Tech capitalizes on enhancing convenience and speed
                                                                    • Panera 2.0
                                                                      • Other outlets
                                                                        • Other tech advances of note
                                                                          • Latest food innovation trends
                                                                          • Competitive Context

                                                                            • Spoilt for choice
                                                                              • It starts with menus…
                                                                                • …and the food that truly distinguishes a restaurant
                                                                                  • Figure 14: distribution of ingredient claims in commercial restaurants, Q4 2013
                                                                                  • Figure 15: important influencers when deciding where to dine out
                                                                                  • Figure 16: consumers demand more detailed menu information
                                                                                • Referrals play a lesser but important role
                                                                                  • Grocery outlets nab consumers during shopping visits
                                                                                      • Figure 17: Distribution of expenditures on food for off-premise consumption, by channel, 1993, 2003, 2012
                                                                                  • Marketing Strategies

                                                                                    • Operators expand interactive ordering
                                                                                        • Figure 18: Pizza Hut, Interactive concept table, March 2014
                                                                                      • How much should operators care about social media?
                                                                                        • Relational marketing maneuvers
                                                                                          • Figure 19: Subway, Summer with Cimorelli, June 2014
                                                                                        • Other social media marketing efforts
                                                                                          • Figure 20: Followers/subscribers of select LSRs and FSRs, June 2014
                                                                                      • Consumer Data – Overview

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • Restaurant expenditures and locales consumers prefer
                                                                                              • Special occasions and important restaurant characteristics
                                                                                                • What deters restaurant usage and what matters with menus
                                                                                                  • New menu labeling rules shouldn’t deter consumers
                                                                                                    • Drivers for new restaurant trial
                                                                                                      • Consumer tables
                                                                                                        • Figure 21: Restaurant expenditures, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                        • Figure 22: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service), April 2014
                                                                                                        • Figure 23: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service), April 2014
                                                                                                        • Figure 24: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion, April 2014
                                                                                                        • Figure 25: Important characteristics when choosing a restaurant, April 2014
                                                                                                        • Figure 26: Barriers to restaurant usage, April 2014
                                                                                                        • Figure 27: What matters with menus, April 2014
                                                                                                        • Figure 28: Drivers for new restaurant trial, April 2014
                                                                                                    • Consumer Data – Gender

                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                        • Men are most likely restaurant-goers and spenders, especially at FSRs
                                                                                                          • Clean bathrooms matter, especially to women
                                                                                                            • Women somewhat more deterred than men by range of factors
                                                                                                              • Menu matters skew more to women
                                                                                                                • Referrals/promotions drive new restaurant trial, especially for women
                                                                                                                  • Consumer tables by gender
                                                                                                                    • Figure 29: Restaurant expenditures, by gender, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                    • Figure 30: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Any type of restaurant, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                    • Figure 31: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Dine in, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                    • Figure 32: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Delivery, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                    • Figure 33: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Any type of restaurant, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                    • Figure 34: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Dine in, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                    • Figure 35: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Delivery, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                    • Figure 36: Important characteristics when choosing a restaurant, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                    • Figure 37: Barriers to restaurant usage, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                    • Figure 38: What matters with menus, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                    • Figure 39: Drivers for new restaurant trial, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                • Consumer Data – Age

                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Restaurant expenditures jump at age 25
                                                                                                                      • Millennials frequent restaurants of all kinds
                                                                                                                        • On any occasion, age distinguishes restaurant priorities
                                                                                                                          • Millennials more laid back, but they still prefer function over form
                                                                                                                            • Mature adults more deterred to eat out by cost, service, and weather
                                                                                                                              • Over-55s sensitive to primary menu matters
                                                                                                                                • With new restaurant trial, Millennials want answers; over-55s want deals
                                                                                                                                  • Consumer tables by age
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 40: Restaurant expenditures, by age, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 41: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Any type of restaurant, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 42: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Dine in, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 43: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – To go or carry-out, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 44: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Delivery, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 45: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Drive-thru, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Any type of restaurant, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – To go or carry-out, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 48: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Delivery, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 49: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion – Special occasion, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 50: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion – Everyday, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 51: Important characteristics when choosing a restaurant, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 52: Barriers to restaurant usage, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 53: What matters with menus, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 54: Drivers for new restaurant trial, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                • Consumer Data – Household Income

                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                    • Threshold at $50K for over-average restaurant expenditures
                                                                                                                                      • Affluents ($100K+) prefer to dine in, even at LSRs
                                                                                                                                        • Relative income polarizes priorities with occasions
                                                                                                                                          • Less affluent patrons have higher expectations when eating out
                                                                                                                                            • Seasoned restaurant-goers (affluents) expect more with menus
                                                                                                                                              • Affluents ($75K+) raise bar when choosing a new restaurant
                                                                                                                                                • Consumer tables by household income
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 55: Restaurant expenditures, by household income, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 56: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Any type of restaurant, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 57: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Dine in, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 58: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – To go or carry-out, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 59: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Drive-thru, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 60: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Any type of restaurant, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 61: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Dine in, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 62: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – To go or carry-out, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 63: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion – Special occasion, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 64: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion – Everyday, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 65: Important characteristics when choosing a restaurant, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 66: Barriers to restaurant usage, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 67: What matters with menus, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 68: Drivers for new restaurant trial, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Consumer Data – Household Size

                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 69: Millennials living at home with parents, by age, gender, education, employment status, 2012
                                                                                                                                                  • Medium to large households key target for operators
                                                                                                                                                    • For any occasion, larger households seek referrals and family friendliness
                                                                                                                                                      • Small households more particular with restaurant selection and menus
                                                                                                                                                        • Consumer tables by household size
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 70: Restaurant expenditures, by household size, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 71: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Any type of restaurant, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 72: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Dine in, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 73: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – To go or carry-out, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 74: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Delivery, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 75: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Drive-thru, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 76: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Any type of restaurant, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 77: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – To go or carry-out, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 78: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Delivery, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 79: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion – Special occasion, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 80: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion – Everyday, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 81: Important characteristics when choosing a restaurant, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 82: What matters with menus, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                      • Consumer Data – Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                                          • Hispanics lead restaurant spend/usage at LSRs, Asians at FSRs
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 83: Average household size, by race/Hispanic origin, 2001-11
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 84: Population share 2009-19 and buying power 2000-13, by race/Hispanic origin
                                                                                                                                                            • Top factors about equal for all races/ethnicities
                                                                                                                                                              • Menu needs to be quite dispersed for races/ethnicities
                                                                                                                                                                • Consumer tables by race/Hispanic origin
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 85: Restaurant expenditures, by race/Hispanic origin, November 2012-December 2013
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 86: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Any type of restaurant, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 87: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Dine in, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 88: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – To go or carry-out, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 89: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Delivery, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 90: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Drive-thru, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 91: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Any type of restaurant, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 92: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Dine in, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 93: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – To go or carry-out, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 94: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Delivery, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 95: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion – Special occasion, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 96: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion – Everyday, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 97: Barriers to restaurant usage, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 98: What matters with menus, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 99: Drivers for new restaurant trial, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Custom Consumer Segmentation

                                                                                                                                                                  • Group 1: Social media’s influence
                                                                                                                                                                    • Group 2: Speed
                                                                                                                                                                      • Group 3: Diet and health
                                                                                                                                                                        • Group 4: Referrals
                                                                                                                                                                          • Group 5: Convenience and ease
                                                                                                                                                                            • Group 6: Value
                                                                                                                                                                              • Segmentation definition
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 100: Consumer segmentation definitions (1 of 2), April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 101: Consumer segmentation definitions, April 2014 (continued)
                                                                                                                                                                                • Consumer tables by consumer segmentation
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 102: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Any type of restaurant, by foods/beverages, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 103: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Any type of restaurant, by foods/beverages, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 104: Important characteristics when choosing a restaurant, by choosing a restaurant, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 105: Barriers to restaurant usage, by restaurant usage, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 106: What matters with menus, by matters with menus, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 107: Drivers for new restaurant trial, by new restaurant trial, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Additional Tables

                                                                                                                                                                                • Consumer tables by gender
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 108: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – To go or carry-out, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 109: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Drive-thru, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 110: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – To go or carry-out, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 111: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Drive-thru, by gender, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                • Consumer tables by age
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 112: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Dine in, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 113: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Drive-thru, by age, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                • Consumer tables by household income
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 114: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Delivery, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 115: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Delivery, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 116: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Drive-thru, by household income, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                • Consumer tables by household size
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 117: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Dine in, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 118: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Drive-thru, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 119: Barriers to restaurant usage, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 120: Drivers for new restaurant trial, by household size, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                • Consumer tables by race/Hispanic origin
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 121: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Drive-thru, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 122: Important characteristics when choosing a restaurant, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                • Consumer tables by custom segment
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 123: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Dine in, by foods/beverages, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 124: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – To go or carry-out, by foods/beverages, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 125: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Delivery, by foods/beverages, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 126: Where consumers eat restaurant food (limited service) – Drive-thru, by foods/beverages, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 127: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Dine in, by foods/beverages, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 128: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – To go or carry-out, by foods/beverages, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 129: Where consumers eat restaurant food (full-service) – Delivery, by foods/beverages, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 130: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion – Special occasion, by special occasion, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 131: Choosing a restaurant based on occasion – Everyday, by special occasion, April 2014
                                                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                                                Companies Covered

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

                                                                                                                                                                                Dining Out: The Restaurant Decision-Making Process - US - July 2014

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