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Ethnic Trends in Restaurants - US - October 2014

“The ethnic foods operator is caught between trying to offer authentically ethnic foods while catering to an audience that wants to exert control over every aspect of their dining experience. Consumers indicate they are looking for new food experiences, but are anxious about not knowing enough about a menu item’s more exotic or unusual ingredients. Using the menu and service team to educate consumers about ethnic ingredients and components can help with familiarity and make diners comfortable enough to want to try something new. ”
– Julia Gallo-Torres, Senior Analyst, Food, Drink and Foodservice Reports

This report answers the following questions:

  • How to entice less adventurous consumers to try new ethnic dishes?
  • Does the authenticity of an ethnic food really matter?
  • How to compete with products people cook at home?

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

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

                        • The percentage of full- and limited-service ethnic restaurants is growing
                          • Figure 1: Principal menu type, full- and limited-service restaurants, 2002-2012
                        • A focus on new flavor experiences and health draws consumers to ethnic foods
                          • Figure 2: US Per capita availability of fresh vegetables, 1970-2012
                        • Expanding ethnic populations fuel a growing interest in ethnic foods
                          • Eating ethnic foods at home saves money and time
                            • For many, trying new ethnic flavors is a risky business
                              • Figure 3: Trial drivers of ethnic items, August 2014
                            • Households with children are more open to trying different types of ethnic and fusion foods
                              • Figure 4: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, by presence of children in household, August 2014
                            • Those aged 25-34 are more open to ethnic combinations than those 55+
                              • Figure 5: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, by age, August 2014
                            • Customization key to enticing consumers to trial
                              • Figure 6: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, August 2014
                            • What we think
                            • Issues and Insights

                                • How to entice less adventurous consumers to try new ethnic dishes?
                                  • The issues
                                    • The implications
                                      • Does the authenticity of an ethnic food really matter?
                                        • The issues
                                          • The implications
                                            • How to compete with products people cook at home?
                                            • Trend Applications

                                                • Trend: Make It Mine
                                                  • Trend: Sense of the Intense
                                                    • Trend: Why Buy
                                                    • Market Data

                                                      • Key points
                                                        • The number of ethnic concepts in the US is growing
                                                          • Figure 7: Principal menu type, full- and limited-service restaurants, 2002-2012
                                                          • Figure 8: Principal menu type, full-service restaurants, 2002-2012
                                                          • Figure 9: Principal menu type, limited-service restaurants, 2002-2012
                                                      • Market Drivers

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • The US population is eating more vegetables
                                                            • Figure 10: US Per capita availability of fresh vegetables, 1970-2012
                                                          • The US population is more multicultural
                                                            • figure 11: Total US population growth trends, by race and Hispanic origin, 2009, 2014, and 2019
                                                          • Certain ethnic cuisines help more with weight management
                                                            • Figure 12: American adults, by weight category, as determined by body mass index (BMI), 2008-14
                                                          • Consumer confidence still shaky
                                                            • Figure 13: Consumer confidence index, January 2004-March 2014
                                                        • Innovations and Innovators

                                                          • Ethnic foods operators appeal to adventurers seeking bold flavors, and heat
                                                            • Appealing to consumers through healthier menu items
                                                              • Positioning ethnic foods and flavors as a good value
                                                              • Competitive Context

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • Consumers save money by eating regularly at home, and the quality of retail foods is getting better
                                                                    • American foods-themed restaurants offering more ethnic foods
                                                                      • Food trucks often offer ethnic street foods, and inspiration
                                                                      • Marketing Strategies

                                                                        • Overview
                                                                          • Catering to those who love spicy and hot flavor profiles
                                                                            • American concepts offering ethnic flavors
                                                                              • Ethnic restaurants mix ingredients and flavors from different ethnicities
                                                                                • Ethnic restaurants highlight healthier preparations
                                                                                  • Ethnic concepts use promotions to gain consumer loyalty
                                                                                    • Ethnic restaurants promote their participation in charitable causes
                                                                                    • Menu Analysis

                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                        • Ethnic flavors appearing in both ethnic and nonethnic concepts
                                                                                          • American concepts offering ethnically flavored foods
                                                                                            • Ethnic restaurants offering foods with an American twist
                                                                                            • Consumer Data – Overview

                                                                                                • Familiarity of ingredients important to consumers
                                                                                                    • Figure 14: Experience with ethnic cuisines, August 2014
                                                                                                    • Figure 15: Trial drivers of ethnic items, August 2014
                                                                                                  • Use of native ingredients and ethnicity of restaurant owners affect perceptions of authenticity
                                                                                                      • Figure 16: Authenticity of ethnic items, August 2014
                                                                                                      • Figure 17: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, August 2014
                                                                                                  • Consumer Data – By Gender

                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                      • Men are more willing to try different ethnic cuisines than women
                                                                                                          • Figure 18: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Any interested, by gender, August 2014
                                                                                                          • Figure 19: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Tried and would again, by gender, August 2014
                                                                                                          • Figure 20: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by gender, August 2014
                                                                                                        • Women judge quality on several factors, while men focus on homemade qualities
                                                                                                            • Figure 21: Authenticity of ethnic items, by gender, August 2014
                                                                                                          • Men more likely to try spicy dishes than women; women like the variety ethnic dishes provide
                                                                                                              • Figure 22: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, by gender, August 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 23: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, by gender, August 2014
                                                                                                            • Women show more interest than men in Asian and African cuisines
                                                                                                                • Figure 24: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Not tried and interested, by gender, August 2014
                                                                                                            • Consumer Data – By Age

                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                • Those in 65+ age group prefer mainstream ethnic cuisines; those aged 18-24 are more adventurous
                                                                                                                    • Figure 25: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Tried and would again, by age, August 2014
                                                                                                                  • Those aged 65+ are less flexible with definition of ethnic foods
                                                                                                                      • Figure 26: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, by age, August 2014
                                                                                                                      • Figure 27: Authenticity of ethnic items, by age, August 2014
                                                                                                                    • Older consumers incentivized by free samples and smaller portions
                                                                                                                        • Figure 28: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by age, August 2014
                                                                                                                        • Figure 29: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, by age, August 2014
                                                                                                                    • Consumer Data – By Generation

                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                        • Younger generation values transparency and health; older values smaller portions
                                                                                                                            • Figure 30: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by generations, August 2014
                                                                                                                          • Experience with ethnic cuisines decreases with age
                                                                                                                              • Figure 31: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Any interested, by generations, August 2014
                                                                                                                              • Figure 32: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Tried and would again, by generations, August 2014
                                                                                                                              • Figure 33: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, by generations, August 2014
                                                                                                                            • Younger demos like spicy foods and more types of ethnic cuisine
                                                                                                                                • Figure 34: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, by generations, August 2014
                                                                                                                                • Figure 35: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Not tried and interested, by generations, August 2014
                                                                                                                            • Consumer Data – By Income

                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                • Interest in a variety of ethnic cuisines rises with income
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 36: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by household income, August 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 37: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Tried and would again, by household income, August 2014
                                                                                                                                  • Higher-income groups say nonchains offer more authentic items
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 38: Authenticity of ethnic items, by household income, August 2014
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 39: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, by household income, August 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Ethnic fusion items appeal most to highest income
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 40: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, by household income, August 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Consumer Data – By Race and Hispanics

                                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                                        • Hispanics less interested in Asian and African cuisines
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 41: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Any interested, by race/Hispanic origin, August 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 42: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Tried and would again, by race/Hispanic origin, August 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Hispanics more open-minded about the definition of authenticity
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 43: Authenticity of ethnic items, by race/Hispanic origin, August 2014
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, by race/Hispanic origin, August 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Drivers to trial of ethnic items
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 45: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by race/Hispanic origin, August 2014
                                                                                                                                            • Consumer Data – By Parents

                                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                                • Households with kids look to exotic ingredients and menu descriptions to judge the authenticity of items
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Authenticity of ethnic items, by presence of children in household, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by presence of children in household, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 48: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Tried and would again, by presence of children in household, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Those without children crave more adventurous foods than those with kids
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 49: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, by presence of children in household, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 50: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, by presence of children in household, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                    • Respondents without kids more likely to not have tried French and Korean foods, compared to those with kids
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 51: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Not tried and interested, by presence of children in household, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • Consumer Data – By Region

                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                      • Those in the West like spicy dishes, while Midwesterners like small portions of ethnic foods
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 52: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Tried and would again, by region, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 53: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, by region, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 54: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by region, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                        • Midwesterners look for authentic ingredients; those in the West are more open to trying fusion items than those in Northeast
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 55: Authenticity of ethnic items, by region, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 56: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, by region, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                        • Consumer Data – By Area

                                                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                                                            • Those in urban locations want higher-quality ingredients, while those in rural locations want free samples
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 57: Authenticity of ethnic items, by area, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 58: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by area, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 59: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, by area, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 60: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Not tried and interested, by area, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • Consumer Data – By Repertoire Analysis

                                                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                • Consumers who eat more ethnic foods eat more types, and those who eat more have more stringent criteria
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 61: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Any interested, by repertoire on reordering of ethnic cuisines, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 62: Authenticity of ethnic items, by repertoire on reordering of ethnic cuisines, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Exposure to more ethnic cuisine types expands repertoire
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 63: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, by repertoire on reordering of ethnic cuisines, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Overview

                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 64: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 65: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by cuisine category for regular users – Interested, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 66: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by cuisine category for regular users – Interested, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 67: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by cuisine category for regular users – Interested, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data by Age

                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 68: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Any interested, by age, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data by Generation

                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 69: Authenticity of ethnic items, by generations, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 70: Behaviors and attitudes toward ethnic items, by generations, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 71: Trial drivers of ethnic items, by generations, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data by Income

                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 72: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Not tried and interested, by household income, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 73: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Any interested, by household income, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix - Data by Race and Hispanics

                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 74: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, by race/Hispanic origin, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 75: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Not tried and interested, by race/Hispanic origin, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data by Parents

                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 76: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Any interested, by presence of children in household, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – By Region

                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 77: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Any interested, by region, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – By Area

                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 78: Perceptions of ethnic item formats, by area, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 79: Experience with ethnic cuisines – Any interested, by area, August 2014
                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                                    Companies Covered

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

                                                                                                                                                                    Ethnic Trends in Restaurants - US - October 2014

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