"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.