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Fast Casual Restaurants - US - February 2017

"With a lot of restaurant segments shifting away from some of their core foundational features, fast casuals continue to find success by focusing on quality ingredients and premium dishes in a convenient, affordable setting. However, with new segments, from retail to food halls, providing competition as well as opportunities, fast casuals can’t remain focused on what works now and have to continue to look ahead."
- Diana Kelter, Foodservice Analyst

This Report discusses the following key topics:

  • Consumers have defined associations with fast food and fast casual
  • iGens are low-frequency visitors
  • Millennials are not motivated by affordability

This Report will examine consumer attitudes toward the fast casual dining segment. It will investigate frequency of visitation to fast casual restaurants, consumer comparisons to fast food, and visitation drivers. This Report builds off previous with this title from 2016, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

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

  • QSRs (quick-service restaurants) – Used interchangeably with “fast food,” QSRs specialize in inexpensive, convenient meals that are less expensive than at fast casuals. There is typically no waiter service and no alcoholic beverages. 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, and emphasize customization. Fast casuals may or may not offer limited table service or alcohol. Examples include: Chipotle, Panera Bread, Shake Shack, and Blaze Pizza.
  • LSRs (limited-service restaurants) – These establishments provide foodservices 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. These may also sell alcoholic beverages. LSRs include both QSRs and fast casual restaurants. The other category within LSRs (as seen in the market size and forecast) includes snacks and non-alcoholic beverage bars, cafeterias, grills, and grill buffets.
  • FSRs (full-service restaurants) – These establishments have waiter/waitress service in which customers order and are served while seated. These may also sell alcoholic beverages and offer carryout services and include the restaurant segments: midscale, casual dining, and fine dining.
  • MMI (Mintel Menu Insights) – MMI is a quarterly census of restaurant brands covering all commercial segments and US census regions/divisions, with trends going back to Q2 2004. MMI tracks more than 30 unique menu item attributes including flavor, preparation (physical and/or cooking), menu type/section, cuisine type, menu claims, etc., grouped into six major categories from macro restaurant, menu, plate, item dish, and beverage to micro ingredient detail.
  • MMI Legacy Data – This data is reflective of the historic MMI database prior to any expansion data being incorporated. This data can be trended back to 2004 and is representative of 580 restaurants and 3,000 menus.
  • MMI Expansion Data – This data is reflective of the MMI expansion that increased restaurant coverage from 580 to 1,500 and increased menu collection from 3,000 to 8,000. The expansion data incorporates expanded convenience store coverage, including data for hot food, cold prepacked food, breakfast menus, and all self-serve beverage options.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Consumers have defined associations with fast food and fast casual
            • Figure 1: Dish association between fast food and fast casuals, November 2016
          • iGens are low-frequency visitors
            • Figure 2: Low-frequency (one to three times a month or less than once a month) fast casual visitation, by cuisine type, by generation, November 2016
          • Millennials are not motivated by affordability
            • Figure 3: Importance of affordability, by generation, November 2016
          • The opportunities
            • Hispanic Millennials are a key target for fast casuals
              • Figure 4: High-frequency visitation (one to three times a week or more), by cuisine type, by Hispanic Millennials and non-Hispanic Millennials, November 2016
            • Women value the social experience
              • Figure 5: Fast casual statement agreement, any agreement, by gender, November 2016
            • Online ordering is the wave of the future
              • Figure 6: Important qualities of a fast casual, by generation, November 2016
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • QSRs seek to offer a more premium experience
                • Smartphone ownership redefines meals
                  • The evolution of a foodie
                  • Market Perspective

                    • Casual dining chains entering the fast casual scene
                      • QSRs competing with premium fast casual factors
                        • Figure 7: Number of menu items at QSRs with menu and ingredient claims, Q4 2015-16
                    • Market Factors

                      • A smartphone in every pocket
                        • Figure 8: Smartphone owners, by age, November 2016
                      • Food halls and breweries provide new expansion opportunities
                        • Figure 9: Gourmet food hall visitation, by generation, September 2016
                        • Figure 10: Local bar / brewery visitation, by generation, September 2016
                      • Hispanics are an important segment to watch
                        • Figure 11: Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2012-22
                      • The foodie movement
                        • Figure 12: Statement agreement, “I consider myself a foodie,” by Millennials and non-Millennial foodies, May 2016
                    • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                      • Expansion is not straightforward
                        • Established chains continue to show growth
                          • Emerging segments show a focus on beverages
                          • The Fast Casual Identity

                            • Key Fast Casual Players – Established Chains

                                • Chipotle
                                  • Panera Bread
                                    • Corner Bakery
                                      • Noodles & Company
                                        • Shake Shack
                                          • Blaze Pizza
                                          • Smaller/Independent Fast Casuals

                                              • Mendocino Farms
                                                • Holler & Dash
                                                  • The Kebab Shop
                                                    • Homegrown
                                                      • honeygrow
                                                        • Nachoria
                                                          • Antique Taco
                                                          • Segments to Watch

                                                            • International
                                                              • Indian cuisine introduces new flavor profiles in familiar settings
                                                                • Seafood
                                                                  • Health
                                                                  • Social Media Fast Casual Analysis Data

                                                                    • Methodology
                                                                      • Facebook remains the most dominant source of followers
                                                                        • Figure 13: Total Number of social media followers, Oct. 1, 2016-Dec. 31, 2016
                                                                      • Followers don’t equal engagement
                                                                        • Figure 14: Total Number of social media engagements, Oct. 1, 2016-Dec. 31, 2016
                                                                      • Shake Shack posts frequently, Chipotle emphasizes Twitter
                                                                        • Figure 15: Total number of social media posts, Oct. 1, 2016-Dec. 31, 2016
                                                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                      • A new take on combo deals
                                                                        • Affordable and fresh are the top associations
                                                                          • The importance of menu variety
                                                                          • Fast Casual Visitation

                                                                            • Consumers show cuisine diversity in fast casual visitation
                                                                              • Figure 16: Any fast casual visitation, by cuisine type, November 2016.
                                                                            • Indulgent options lead in high-frequency visitation
                                                                              • Figure 17: High-frequency fast casual visitation, by cuisine type, November 2016
                                                                            • Men and Millennials: A core fast casual demographic
                                                                              • Figure 18: Any fast casual visitation, by cuisine type, by gender, November 2016
                                                                              • Figure 19: High-frequency fast casual visitation, by cuisine type, by generation, November 2016
                                                                              • Figure 20: Low-frequency fast casual visitation, by cuisine type, by generation, November 2016
                                                                            • Hispanic Millennials are a demographic to watch
                                                                              • Figure 21: High-frequency visitation, by cuisine type, by Hispanic Millennials and non-Hispanic Millennials, November 2016
                                                                            • The urban and suburban difference
                                                                              • Figure 22: Any fast casual visitation, by cuisine type, by urban and suburban Millennials, November 2016
                                                                            • Don’t ignore dad in marketing campaigns
                                                                              • Figure 23: any fast casual visitation, by cuisine type, by mothers and fathers, November 2016
                                                                          • Visitation Motivators

                                                                            • Consumers crave combo deals
                                                                              • Figure 24: Turf Analysis, increased visitation motivators, November 2016
                                                                            • More than half of World War II/Swing generation consumers are not motivated by any factors
                                                                              • Figure 25: Increased fast casual visitation motivators, by generation, November 2016
                                                                            • The drive-thru factor
                                                                              • Figure 26: Drive-Thru as a fast casual motivator, by mothers and fathers, November 2016
                                                                            • Hispanic Millennials care about breakfast and WiFi
                                                                              • Figure 27: Increased fast casual visitation motivators, by Hispanics, November 2016
                                                                            • Low-frequency visitors driven in by combo deals and new menu items
                                                                              • Figure 28: Increased fast casual visitation motivators, by visitation frequency, November 2016
                                                                          • Fast Casual Associations

                                                                            • Affordable is a key fast casual association
                                                                              • Figure 29: Fast casual associations, any rank, November 2016
                                                                              • Figure 30: Fast casual associations, any rank, by gender, November 2016
                                                                            • Suburban Millennials show a stronger association with affordability
                                                                              • Figure 31: Fast casual associations, any rank, by urban and suburban millennials, November 2016
                                                                              • Figure 32: Fast casual associations, any rank, by age, November 2016
                                                                          • Attitudes toward Fast Casuals

                                                                            • Fast casuals remain a key hot spot for lunch
                                                                              • Figure 33: Fast casual statement agreement, any agreement, November 2016
                                                                              • Figure 34: Fast casual statement agreement, any agreement, by age, November 2016
                                                                            • Younger consumers pay more attention to transparency and innovation
                                                                              • Figure 35: Fast casual statement agreement, any agreement, by age, November 2016
                                                                            • Men focus on food, women focus on the experience
                                                                              • Figure 36: Fast casual statement agreement, any agreement, by gender, November 2016
                                                                            • A convenient dinner option for parents
                                                                              • Figure 37: Fast casual statement agreement, any agreement, by parents and nonparents, November 2016
                                                                          • Important Fast Casual Factors

                                                                            • A focus on the basics
                                                                              • Figure 38: Important qualities of a fast casual, November 2016
                                                                            • Affordability is key for low-frequency visitors
                                                                              • Figure 39: Important qualities of a fast casual, by high-frequency visitors and low-frequency visitors, November 2016
                                                                            • Millennials display a different value perspective
                                                                              • Figure 40: Importance of affordability, by generation, November 2016
                                                                              • Figure 41: Important qualities of a fast casual, by generation, November 2016
                                                                            • Defining affordability through customization
                                                                              • Figure 42: Important qualities of a fast casual, by income, November 2016
                                                                          • Fast Food and Fast Casual Dishes

                                                                            • Fast food and fast casual dishes maintain traditional associations
                                                                                • Figure 43: Dish association between fast food and fast casual, November 2016
                                                                              • Millennials show greater equality between segments
                                                                                • Figure 44: Breakfast sandwich association between fast food and fast casual, by generation, November 2016
                                                                                • Figure 45: Burger association between fast food and fast casual, by generation, November 2016
                                                                                • Figure 46: Side dish association between fast food and fast casual, by generation, November 2016
                                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                              • Data sources
                                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                                  • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                                                    • Appendix – TURF Analysis

                                                                                      • Methodology
                                                                                        • Figure 47: Table – TURF analysis – Increased visitation motivators, November 2016

                                                                                    Companies Covered

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                                                                                    Fast Casual Restaurants - US - February 2017

                                                                                    US $3,995.00 (Excl.Tax)