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Kids and Dining Out - US - July 2013

“Children are shifting in the way they use restaurants. They are ordering from many different areas of the menus, in part because of parental health concerns as well as a lack of sophisticated options. The meal toy traditionally drew in kids, but children are becoming increasingly sophisticated and aging out of them at a younger age. Additionally, restaurants must consider how a child’s restaurant experience differs between dine-in and to-go options and change to meet their needs in terms of menu offerings, packaging, and activities.”

– Bethany Wall, Foodservice Analyst

Some issues addressed in this report include:

  • Restaurants’ role in meeting parents’ needs for better-for-you kids’ options
  • Meeting kids’ needs and recognizing their influence
  • The best ways that restaurants can engage children

Traditional kids’ menus have become stale and no longer speak to the needs and preferences of today’s youth. Due to rising childhood obesity and busy parents’ dependency on foodservice, restaurants are becoming a target of parents as well as the government and must change to offer better-for-you selections. Additionally, with the increasingly complex palates of children today, they seek exotic and more sophisticated flavors. Kids are also aging out of kids’ meal toys at a younger age. Restaurants must come up with a strategy to draw in children, whether it is via more sophisticated toys, activities, online content, or play areas.

This report explores kids’ dining out trends and opportunities within the foodservice space by understanding the current marketplace, revealing competitive developments, uncovering marketing techniques and innovative technologies that restaurant operators can utilize, viewing kids’ item trends on restaurant menus, and featuring consumer behavior and attitudes as they relate to foodservice.

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

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

                        • Market drivers
                          • Opportunities
                            • Menu analysis
                              • Figure 1: Segment breakdown of kids’ menu items at restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                              • Figure 2: Top 10 kids’ menu items at restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                            • The consumer
                              • Figure 3: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, May 2013
                              • Figure 4: Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, May 2013
                              • Figure 5: Restaurant behavior when dining with children, May 2013
                            • What we think
                            • Issues and Insights

                                • Restaurants’ role in meeting parents’ needs for better-for-you kids’ options
                                  • The issues
                                    • The implications
                                      • Meeting kids’ needs and recognizing their influence
                                        • The issues
                                          • The implications
                                            • The best ways that restaurants can engage children
                                              • The issues
                                                • The implications
                                                • Innovators and Innovations

                                                    • Better-for-you Options
                                                      • Technological Toys
                                                        • Interactive Toys and Activities
                                                          • Play Areas
                                                          • Trend Applications

                                                              • Trend: Minimize Me
                                                                • Trend: Experience Is All
                                                                  • Mintel Futures: Access Anything Anywhere
                                                                  • Market Drivers

                                                                      • Foodservice and drinking place sales have inched downward
                                                                        • Figure 6: Adjusted foodservice and drinking place sales, in billions, January 2008-April 2013
                                                                      • Restaurant Performance Index lingers around the 100 mark
                                                                        • Figure 7: Restaurant Performance Index, January 2009-April 2013
                                                                      • Economic Indicators
                                                                        • Rising commodity prices
                                                                          • Millennials enter into parenthood
                                                                            • Cultural diversity
                                                                              • Government legislation
                                                                                • Childhood obesity and diabetes
                                                                                • Marketing Strategies

                                                                                  • Overview of the brand landscape
                                                                                    • Television advertisements
                                                                                      • Burger King
                                                                                        • Figure 8: Burger King, “Mario Brothers,” television ad, October 2012
                                                                                      • Chuck E. Cheese’s
                                                                                        • Figure 9: Chuck E. Cheese’s, “Ticket Blaster,” Television Ad, June 2013
                                                                                      • McDonald’s
                                                                                        • Figure 10: McDonald’s. “Epic Goodness,” television ad, May 2013
                                                                                      • Spangles
                                                                                        • Figure 11: Spangles’, “Summer Treat,” television ad, July 2012
                                                                                      • Subway
                                                                                        • Figure 12: Subway’s, “Old Creation/Healthy Kids,” television ad, March 2013
                                                                                      • Wendy’s
                                                                                        • Figure 13: Wendy’s, “Family Time,” television ad, May 2013
                                                                                      • Sweepstakes and contests
                                                                                        • Free kids’ nights and meals
                                                                                          • Be an ally in the fight against obesity and overweight
                                                                                            • Mommy marketing
                                                                                              • Charitable programs
                                                                                              • Menu Analysis—Overview

                                                                                                • Segment Overview
                                                                                                  • Figure 14: Segment breakdown of kids’ menu items, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                • Menu section
                                                                                                    • Figure 15: Menu breakdown of kids’ menu items at restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                  • Menu items
                                                                                                    • Figure 16: Top 10 kids’ menu items at restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                  • Preparation methods
                                                                                                      • Figure 17: Top 10 preparation methods for kids’ menu items at restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                    • Marketing claims
                                                                                                        • Figure 18: Top 10 marketing claims for kids’ menu items at restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                      • Nutritional claims
                                                                                                          • Figure 19: Top 10 nutritional claims for kids’ menu items at restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                      • Menu Analysis—Menu Items by Restaurant Type

                                                                                                        • Quick service restaurants
                                                                                                            • Figure 20: Top 10 kids’ menu items at quick service restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                          • Fast casual restaurants
                                                                                                              • Figure 21: Top 10 kids’ menu items at fast casual restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                            • Family midscale restaurants
                                                                                                                • Figure 22: Top 10 kids’ menu items at family midscale restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                              • Casual dining restaurants
                                                                                                                  • Figure 23: Top 10 kids’ menu items at casual dining restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                • Fine dining restaurants
                                                                                                                    • Figure 24: Top 10 kids’ menu items at fine dining restaurants, by incidence, Q1 2010-13
                                                                                                                • Kids’ Restaurant Usage

                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Quick service restaurants for dinner are used most by families
                                                                                                                      • Figure 25: Kids’ restaurant usage and dayparts, May 2013
                                                                                                                    • Dads are more likely to dine with family at a variety of segments
                                                                                                                      • Figure 26: Kids’ restaurant usage, by gender, May 2013
                                                                                                                      • Figure 27: Restaurant daypart usage, by gender, May 2013
                                                                                                                    • Restaurant selection for dining with kids is correlated to household income
                                                                                                                      • Figure 28: Kids’ restaurant usage, by household income, May 2013
                                                                                                                    • Hispanics visit a larger variety of restaurants and for multiple dayparts
                                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Kids’ restaurant usage, by Hispanic origin, May 2013
                                                                                                                      • Figure 30: Restaurant daypart usage, by Hispanic origin, May 2013
                                                                                                                    • Westerners snack and Southerners use casual dining and pizza places
                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Kids’ restaurant usage, by region, May 2013
                                                                                                                    • Younger children are more likely than others to visit restaurants for lunch
                                                                                                                      • Figure 32: Restaurant daypart usage, by child age, May 2013
                                                                                                                  • Changes in Kids’ Restaurant Behavior

                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                      • Parents cook at home instead of visiting restaurants with their kids
                                                                                                                        • Figure 33: Changes in kids’ restaurant behavior, May 2013
                                                                                                                      • Breakfast, specifically dine-in, has shown growth compared to last year
                                                                                                                        • Figure 34: Increases in kids’ restaurant behavior, by restaurant daypart usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                      • Moms increased cooking at home and their usage of the drive-thru
                                                                                                                        • Figure 35: Increases in kids’ restaurant behavior, by gender, May 2013
                                                                                                                      • Low-income parents cook more at home; affluents visit restaurants more
                                                                                                                        • Figure 36: Increases in kids’ restaurant behavior, by household income, May 2013
                                                                                                                      • Northeasterners buy upscale items; Westerners stick to traditional options
                                                                                                                        • Figure 37: Increases in kids’ restaurant behavior, by region, May 2013
                                                                                                                    • Desired Improvements for Kids’ Meals

                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                        • Moms are more likely than dads to desire an activity over a toy
                                                                                                                          • Figure 38: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by gender, May 2013
                                                                                                                        • Low-income parents value on-the-go items; affluents value sophistication
                                                                                                                          • Figure 39: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by household income, May 2013
                                                                                                                        • Older kids quickly age out of the toys and activities currently offered
                                                                                                                          • Figure 40: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by child age, May 2013
                                                                                                                      • Menu Sections Used When Ordering for Kids

                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                          • Moms concerned with health and price, while dads let kids order appetizers
                                                                                                                            • Figure 41: Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, by gender, May 2013
                                                                                                                          • Low-income kids order off value menus and the affluent order adult entrées
                                                                                                                            • Figure 42: Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, by household income, May 2013
                                                                                                                          • Hispanic kids more likely to order appetizers, desserts, and senior items
                                                                                                                            • Figure 43: Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, by Hispanic origin, May 2013
                                                                                                                          • Cutoff for ordering from the kids menu happens at around 12
                                                                                                                            • Figure 44: Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, by child age, May 2013
                                                                                                                        • Restaurant Behavior when Dining with Kids

                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                            • Kids order for themselves, like the healthy options offered, and eat dessert
                                                                                                                              • Moms treat their kids to healthy meals, while dads lead by example
                                                                                                                                • Figure 45: Restaurant Behavior when Dining with Kids, by gender, May 2013
                                                                                                                              • Affluent kids choose their meal and low-income kids earn their dessert
                                                                                                                                • Figure 46: Restaurant behavior when dining with kids, by household income, May 2013
                                                                                                                              • Hispanic parents stricter and more influential to their children
                                                                                                                                • Figure 47: Restaurant behavior when dining with kids, by Hispanic origin, May 2013
                                                                                                                              • Midwest parents most likely to use restaurants for treats
                                                                                                                                • Figure 48: Restaurant behavior when dining with kids, by region, May 2013
                                                                                                                              • Parents of young kids are more likely to choose meals and use incentives
                                                                                                                                • Figure 49: Restaurant behavior when dining with kids, by child age, May 2013
                                                                                                                            • Parents’ Attitudes to Kid’s Options at Restaurants

                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                • Parents may want toddler breakfast meals and multiple kids’ snack sizes
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 50: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, by restaurant daypart usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                • Moms concerned with kids’ menu selection and activities
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 51: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, by gender, May 2013
                                                                                                                                • Low-income parents agree portions are too large and activities are needed
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 52: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, by household income, May 2013
                                                                                                                                • Hispanic parents find kids’ meals bland and look for activities at restaurants
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 53: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, by Hispanic origin, May 2013
                                                                                                                                • Northeasterners want healthier items, while Westerners find offerings bland
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 54: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, by region, May 2013
                                                                                                                                • Parents want to keep toddlers busy and give 5-8 year olds exciting choices
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 55: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, by child age, May 2013
                                                                                                                              • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                                                  • Super Parents
                                                                                                                                    • Demographics
                                                                                                                                      • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                        • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                          • Toddler Parents
                                                                                                                                            • Demographics
                                                                                                                                              • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                  • Parents of Teens
                                                                                                                                                    • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                      • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                        • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                          • Cluster characteristic tables
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 56: Target clusters, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 57: Kids’ restaurant usage, by target clusters, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 58: Restaurant daypart usage, by target clusters, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 59: Increases in kids restaurant behavior, by target clusters, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 60: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by target clusters, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 61: Sections typically used when ordering for kids, by target clusters, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 62: Restaurant behavior when dining with kids, by target clusters, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 63: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, by target clusters, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                          • Cluster demographic tables
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 64: Target clusters, by region, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 65: Target clusters, by child age, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 66: Target clusters, by demographic, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                          • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Additional Tables

                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 67: Kids’ restaurant usage, by age, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 68: Restaurant daypart usage, by age, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 69: Restaurant daypart usage, by household income, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 70: Restaurant daypart usage, by region, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 71: Kids’ restaurant usage, by child age, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 72: Increases in kids’ restaurant behavior, by age, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 73: Increases in kids’ restaurant behavior, by Hispanic origin, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 74: Increases kids’ restaurant behavior, by Kids’ restaurant usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 75: Increases in kids’ restaurant behavior, by Kids’ restaurant usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 76: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by restaurant daypart usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 77: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by age, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 78: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by Hispanic origin, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 79: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by region, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 80: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by Kids’ restaurant usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 81: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by Kids’ restaurant usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 82: Desired improvements for kids’ meals, by Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 83: Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, by restaurant daypart usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 84: Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, by age, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 85: Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, by region, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 86: Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, by Kids’ restaurant usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 87: Menu sections typically used when ordering for kids, by Kids’ restaurant usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 88: Restaurant behavior when dining with kids, by restaurant daypart usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 89: Restaurant behavior when dining with kids, by age, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 90: Restaurant behavior when dining with kids, by Kids’ restaurant usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 91: Restaurant behavior when dining with kids, by Kids’ restaurant usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 92: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 93: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, by age, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 94: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, by Kids’ restaurant usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 95: Parents’ attitudes to kids’ options at restaurants, by Kids’ restaurant usage, May 2013
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Market Drivers

                                                                                                                                                            • Consumer confidence
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 96: University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment (ICS), 2007-13
                                                                                                                                                            • Unemployment
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 97: U.S. Unemployment Rate, by month, 2002-13
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 98: U.S. Unemployment and underemployment rates, 2007-13
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 99: Number of employed civilians in U.S., in thousands, 2007-13
                                                                                                                                                            • Food cost pressures
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 100: Changes in USDA Food Price Indexes, 2011 through May 24, 2013
                                                                                                                                                            • Obesity
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 101: U.S. obesity, by age group, 2008 and 2012
                                                                                                                                                            • Childhood and teen obesity—highest in decades
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 102: Prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged 2-19, 1971-2010
                                                                                                                                                            • Racial, ethnic population growth
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 103: U.S. population by race and Hispanic origin, 2008, 2013, and 2018
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 104: Households with children, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2012
                                                                                                                                                            • Shifting U.S. demographics
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 105: U.S. population, by age, 2008-18
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 106: U.S. households, by presence of own children, 2002-12
                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                            Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                            • National Restaurant Association (NRA)
                                                                                                                                                            • U.S. Bureau of the Census

                                                                                                                                                            Kids and Dining Out - US - July 2013

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