Fast Casual Restaurants - US - October 2013
“Due to consumers’ budgets still being constrained, fast casual restaurants must find a way to provide more value in order to justify higher prices. This value proposition includes quality items and upscale yet casual experience at an affordable price. Corporate responsibility initiatives will play an increasingly important role, as will deals meant to promote trial and build loyalty.”
– Bethany Wall, Foodservice Analyst
This report looks at the following areas:
- How fast casuals provide value through quality to justify higher prices
- The corporate responsibility initiatives that resonate most with consumers
Fast casual restaurants are a fast-growing segment that branches many cuisine types from bakery cafés and delis to Mexican, better burger, and now pizza. Since these restaurants tend to be clustered around more urban and suburban settings, many do not participate in national advertising. How does a fast casual obtain and maintain customers effectively? Must it participate in corporate responsibility to stand out and be successful? If so, which activities are most important? What is it about fast casuals that set them apart from other restaurant segments? While their quality is higher than quick service restaurants and value is better than casual dining, is value focused on flavors and health?
For the purposes of this report, Mintel has used the following definitions:
This report examines fast casual restaurants in the US. These restaurants are positioned between limited service fast food restaurants and full-service casual dining restaurants. There is no precise definition that fits all restaurants in the segment, but the following characteristics help to distinguish fast casual from other types of limited service restaurants.
Absence of table service, although some may deliver orders to the table after customers place their order at a counter and seat themselves.
Décor that is of higher quality and creates a more upscale ambience than that typically found in fast food restaurants.
Coherent menu themes.
Focus on freshness, with products made to order with no or minimal use of frozen or canned foods/ingredients or microwaved foods.
Focus on health and natural/organic foods; may avoid use of preservatives, MSG, and other chemicals and may source animal products that are antibiotic free, vegetarian fed, free range, etc.
Focus on consumer choice, sometimes provided through an extensive selection of condiments.
The check size is between $8-10.
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