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Fast Casual Restaurants - US - February 2016

"The fast casual market is still evolving as existing brands expand their offerings and new brands emerge to fill the gaps in the market. Fast casual restaurants continue to shape the entire foodservice industry by offering highly customizable items made with premium ingredients and a new wave of fast casuals are emerging that threaten full service restaurants even further."
- Caleb Bryant, Foodservice Analyst

This report discusses the following key topics:

  • Fast casuals can do more to attract parents 
  • Fast casuals must compete with retail food
  • QSRs alter menus to appeal to fast casual diners

The purpose of this report is to analyze consumers’ attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions surrounding fast casual restaurants. It will also explain what types of fast casual restaurants are trending as well as profile some of the major players in the market.

For the purposes of this report Mintel has used the following restaurant definitions:

  • Limited service restaurants (LSRs) – These establishments provide food services where customers usually select and order items and pay before dining. Food/drink may be consumed on the premises, offered as carryout, or delivered to the customer’s location. They may also sell alcoholic beverages. LSRs include both QSRs and fast casual restaurants.
  • Quick service restaurants (QSRs) – Used interchangeably with “fast food,” QSRs specialize in inexpensive, convenient meals. There is no waiter service, no alcoholic beverages, and low price point. Examples include: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Pizza Hut.
  • Fast casual restaurants – These establishments are characterized by a higher price point than QSRs though not as high as full service restaurants. Fast casuals do not offer waiter service and may or may not serve alcohol. Examples include: Chipotle, Panera Bread, Shake Shack, and Blaze Pizza.
  • Full service restaurants (FSRs) – These establishments have waiter/waitress service in which customers order and are served while seated. They may also sell alcoholic beverages and offer carryout services. These include the restaurant segments: midscale, casual dining, and fine dining.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Fast casuals can do more to attract parents
            • Figure 1: Correspondence analysis – Restaurant word association, November 2015
          • Fast casuals must compete with retail food
            • Figure 2: Fast casual behavior changes compared to a year ago, November 2015
          • QSRs alter menus to appeal to fast casual diners
            • The opportunities
              • Clear opportunity for salad and chicken concepts
                • Figure 3: Fast casual cuisine interest, November 2015
              • Time is right for fast casual premium restaurants
                • Figure 4: Fast casual visitation motivators, November 2015
              • Despite the higher price point, most consumers agree fast casuals are worth the cost
                • Figure 5: Fast casual statement agreement, November 2015
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • The economics of Millennials
                  • LSRs are gaining market share
                    • Feel good food and the fluidity of health
                    • Market Perspective

                      • QSRs offering “barbell menus”
                        • FSRs attempt to court lunch occasions
                        • Market Factors

                          • Generational appeal
                            • Figure 6: US population by generation share, 2015
                          • LSRs are gaining market share
                            • Figure 7: Total US revenues and forecast for restaurants and other eating places, market share, 2005-15
                          • Feel good versus food scares
                          • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                            • A fast casual for every diner
                              • If you can’t beat ’em...
                                • Fast casual premium: The emerging segment
                                • Fast Casual Players

                                    • Burgers
                                      • Chicken
                                        • Salad
                                          • Pizza
                                            • Other
                                            • Brand Spinoffs

                                              • Established brands enter the fast casual market
                                              • The Emerging Segment

                                                • A new restaurant segment emerges
                                                • ePerformance

                                                  • What is ePerformance?
                                                    • ePerformance and the foodservice industry
                                                      • Figure 8: Restaurant industry read rate by segment, Dec. 20, 2015-Jan. 20, 2016
                                                    • ePerformance and fast casuals: Chipotle, Noodles & Company, and Panera Bread
                                                      • Chipotle: Lacking any clear email marketing program
                                                        • Noodles & Company: Promoting family offerings and specialty days
                                                          • Figure 9: Noodles & Company email: “Come in today for National Spaghetti Day!”
                                                        • Panera Bread: High volume with a variety of subjects
                                                          • Figure 10: Panera Bread email: [NAME] you could win Panera for a year!
                                                          • Figure 11: Panera Bread email: [NAME] new frozen bread at your grocer!
                                                        • A/B testing and fast casuals
                                                          • Figure 12: Email examples, Panera Bread and Noodles & Company
                                                      • What’s Next?

                                                        • Continued integration of technology
                                                          • Brand expansion
                                                            • Keep it clean
                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                              • Notable whitespace in the fast casual market
                                                                • Most agree, fast casuals are worth the price
                                                                  • Focus on attracting parents
                                                                  • Fast Casual Visitation and Correspondence Analysis

                                                                    • Fast casual visitation highest among Millennials, the affluent, and urbanites
                                                                      • Correspondence analysis
                                                                        • Methodology
                                                                          • Figure 13: Correspondence analysis – Segment visitation by daypart, November 2015
                                                                        • Daypart opportunities abound, especially for snacks and desserts
                                                                        • Fast Casual Behavior Changes

                                                                          • AH food cutting into fast casuals
                                                                            • Figure 14: Fast casual behavior changes compared to a year ago, November 2015
                                                                          • In their own words
                                                                            • The beverage problem
                                                                              • Behavior changes largely dependent on income
                                                                                • Figure 15: Fast casual behavior changes compared to a year ago – “More”, November 2015
                                                                            • Fast Casual Cuisine Opportunities

                                                                              • Concept winners, losers, and dark horses
                                                                                  • Figure 16: Fast casual cuisine interest, November 2015
                                                                                • Cuisine interest among the generations
                                                                                  • Figure 17: Fast casual cuisine interest, top five cuisines by generation, November 2015
                                                                                • Marketing cuisines by consumer race
                                                                                  • Figure 18: Fast casual cuisine interest, top five cuisines by generation, November 2015
                                                                              • Restaurant Word Association – Correspondence Analysis

                                                                                • Methodology
                                                                                  • Fast casual strengths and areas of improvement
                                                                                    • Figure 19: Correspondence analysis – Restaurant word association, November 2015
                                                                                  • In their own words
                                                                                  • Increased Visitation Motivators

                                                                                    • Diners are ready for the new wave of fast casuals
                                                                                      • Figure 20: Fast casual visitation motivators, November 2015
                                                                                    • Attracting women to fast casuals
                                                                                      • Figure 21: Fast casual visitation motivators, November 2015
                                                                                    • Convenience and secondary factors attract parents
                                                                                        • Figure 22: Fast casual visitation motivators, November 2015
                                                                                      • In their own words
                                                                                      • Fast Casual Attitudes

                                                                                        • Despite the price, most consumer agree fast casuals offer value
                                                                                          • Figure 23: Fast casual statement agreement, November 2015
                                                                                        • Fast casuals and Hispanics
                                                                                          • Figure 24: Fast casual statement agreement, November 2015
                                                                                        • Where you live: Attitudinal and behavioral differences
                                                                                          • Figure 25: Fast casual visitation motivators, November 2015
                                                                                          • Figure 26: Fast casual statement agreement, November 2015
                                                                                          • Figure 27: Fast casual statement agreement, November 2015
                                                                                      • Fast Casuals and Social Media

                                                                                        • Methodology
                                                                                          • Social media overview
                                                                                            • Fast casual passion scores: Twitter users are engaged foodies
                                                                                              • Figure 28: Passion scores by fast casual chains, all channels excluding news, January 2015-16
                                                                                              • Figure 29: Passion scores by fast casual chains, ONLY Twitter, January 2015-16
                                                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                            • Consumer survey data
                                                                                              • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                                                  • Abbreviations
                                                                                                  • Appendix – Consumer

                                                                                                    • Correspondence analysis: Visitation by daypart
                                                                                                      • Figure 30: Segment visitation by daypart, November 2015
                                                                                                    • Correspondence analysis: Restaurant word association
                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Restaurant word association, November 2015

                                                                                                  Companies Covered

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

                                                                                                  Fast Casual Restaurants - US - February 2016

                                                                                                  £3,174.67 (Excl.Tax)