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Flavor Innovation on the Menu - US - October 2018

"American diners now have access to an expansive range of flavors, dishes, and cuisines, reflective of the diverse and highly competitive foodservice market. However, while the most adventurous embrace innovative, trendy, and international flavors, the majority still tend to stick with familiar fare, at least most of the time. Opportunity will lie in how restaurants position themselves, either by focusing on more narrowly defined consumer groups, or by maximizing their appeal by finding an optimal balance of innovation and continuity, of new flavors and more traditional ones."
- Amanda Topper, Associate Director - Foodservice

This Report looks at the following areas:

  • One third of diners are adventurous, but the majority still stick to what they know 
  • Range of barriers limit trial of new tastes and foods 
  • Adventurous eaters tend to be younger, more diverse, and affluent 
  • Adventurous eaters seek out a wide variety of flavors
  • Many factors and tools can propel diners to try new ingredients
  • New spins on comfort food classics can appeal to diners

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • The issues
            • One third of diners are adventurous, but the majority still stick to what they know
              • Figure 1: Self-segmentation – Dining out, July 2018
            • Range of barriers limit trial of new tastes and foods
              • Figure 2: New food trial barriers, by segment, July 2018
            • The opportunities
              • Adventurous eaters tend to be younger, more diverse, and affluent
                • Figure 3: Demographic profile of consumers who consider themselves adventurous eaters, July 2018
              • Adventurous eaters seek out a wide variety of flavors
                • Figure 4: Interest in flavor, for adventurous eaters, July 2018
              • Many factors and tools can propel diners to try new ingredients
                • Figure 5: Trial motivators – Any rank, July 2018
              • New spins on comfort food classics can appeal to diners
                • Figure 6: Dining out attitudes – Any agree, July 2018
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • Positive macroeconomics propel growth, but landscape is competitive
                  • Adventurous iGens and Millennials seek diverse, trendy, international fare
                    • Weight-loss and wellness goals continue to shape menu innovation
                    • Market Perspective

                        • AFH food consumption grows, although prices rising faster for AH food
                          • Figure 7: At home and away from home food sales, January 2003-August 2018
                        • Diverse, competitive retail landscape with fast casual growing in reach
                          • Figure 8: Total US revenues and forecast of restaurants and eating places*, by segment, at current prices, 2016-23
                        • Menu innovation is widespread across segments
                          • Figure 9: Menu incidence change, by restaurant segment, Q2 2015-18
                        • Expanded foodservice in grocery stores and c-stores compounds competition
                          • Coffee shops and breweries expand their reach, appeal to younger generations
                          • Market Factors

                            • Positive macroeconomics allow more spending and experimentation
                              • Figure 10: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-August 2018
                            • Younger generations are engaged, open to variety and innovation
                              • Figure 11: US population aged 18+, by generation, 2013-23
                            • Affluent and aging boomers will also drive demand, especially for traditional and healthy food
                              • Multicultural diversity shapes consumer base
                                • Figure 12: Distribution of population, by age race/Hispanic origin, 2018
                              • Adventurous parents drive demand for innovative family-friendly fare
                                • Health and weight concerns drive interest in quality, healthful food
                                • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                  • Global flavor profiles and fresh, healthy ingredients drive demand
                                    • Refreshed American fare, comfort food, and meats draw consumers
                                      • Select chains and casual family restaurants struggle to adapt
                                        • Technology may give access to more varied, customized menus
                                          • Trucks, food halls, and new store concepts bring new options to foodies
                                          • What’s Working?

                                              • Global flavor profiles and bold use of spice
                                                • Figure 13: Menu incidence change, by menu item cuisine type, Q2 2015-18
                                              • International foods bring new flavors and spices to menus
                                                • Healthy living drives demand for clean, organic, and vegetarian fare
                                                  • Figure 14: Menu incidence change, by select ingredients, Q2 2015-18
                                                  • Figure 15: Menu incidence change, by select menu item claims, Q2 2015-18
                                                • Bowls offer healthy, fresh ingredients in customizable forms
                                                  • Mocktails on the rise, while kombucha emerges as popular healthful drink
                                                    • Regional American favorites and new takes on comfort food
                                                      • Figure 16: Menu incidence change, by North American cuisine type, Q2 2015-18
                                                    • Meats and “meaty” flavors dominate for mains and are likely to grow
                                                      • Grilling draws out “meaty” flavors and adds “smoky” and other savory notes
                                                        • Spices and next generation vegan “meats” expand access to “meaty” flavors
                                                        • What’s Struggling?

                                                          • Casual dining struggles, losing share to nimbler, innovative fast casual
                                                            • Struggles of sandwich chains show pitfalls of overexpansion and stagnant menus lacking innovation
                                                            • What’s Next?

                                                              • Digital innovations can expand access and menu customization
                                                                • New concepts support food sampling, customization, and new fare
                                                                • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                  • About a third self-identify as “adventurous eaters”
                                                                    • Almost three quarters either like or love spicy foods
                                                                      • Fear they won’t like the taste is a main barrier for diners trying new food
                                                                        • Recommendations of friends/family often motivates trial
                                                                          • Flavor preferences vary for mains, side dishes, and desserts
                                                                            • Robust interest in LTOs, especially those unique to a restaurant
                                                                              • Many open to trendy, international cuisine, but still love comfort food
                                                                              • Adventurous Eaters

                                                                                  • A third are adventurous, but the majority stick to what they know
                                                                                    • Figure 17: Self-segmentation – Dining out, July 2018
                                                                                  • Millennials and parents are more likely to be adventurous
                                                                                    • Figure 18: Demographic profile of self-segmentation – Dining out, July 2018
                                                                                  • Hispanics and Asians less likely to have middle-ground attitude to food
                                                                                    • Figure 19: Self-segmentation – Dining out, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2018
                                                                                • Spicy Food Lovers

                                                                                  • Three quarters like – or love! – spicy food
                                                                                    • Figure 20: Self-segmentation – Spicy, July 2018
                                                                                  • Adventurous food eaters especially likely to prize spice
                                                                                    • Figure 21: Self-segmentation – Spicy, by self-segmentation – Dining out, July 2018
                                                                                  • Younger consumers, parents, and men often embrace spice
                                                                                    • Figure 22: Profile of self-segmentation – Spicy, by key demographics, July 2018
                                                                                  • Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics more likely to love spicy food
                                                                                    • Figure 23: Self segmentation – Spicy, by race and Hispanic origin, July 2018
                                                                                • Barriers to Trying New Food

                                                                                  • Fear of not liking the taste is prime barrier to trying new food
                                                                                    • Figure 24: New food trial barriers, July 2018
                                                                                  • Less adventurous cite multiple obstacles to trying new foods
                                                                                    • Figure 25: New food trial barriers, by self-segmentation – Dining out, July 2018
                                                                                  • Gender shapes barriers to trying new foods
                                                                                    • Figure 26: New food trial barriers, by gender, July 2018
                                                                                  • Older generations’ fear of not liking new tastes limits adventurousness
                                                                                    • Figure 27: New food trial barriers, by generation, July 2018
                                                                                • Trial Motivators

                                                                                  • Recommendations are top-ranked reason for trying new food
                                                                                      • Figure 28: Trial motivators, July 2018
                                                                                    • The adventurous more likely to look to server, reviews, and social media
                                                                                      • Figure 29: Trial motivators, by self-segmentation – Dining out, July 2018
                                                                                    • Among parents, social media recommendations are more important
                                                                                      • Figure 30: Trial motivators, by parental status, July 2018
                                                                                  • Flavor Preferences

                                                                                    • Four flavors dominate, but many others offer nuance and variety
                                                                                      • Figure 31: Interest in flavor, for any menu item, July 2018
                                                                                    • Adventurous eaters seek greater number and wider range of flavors
                                                                                      • Figure 32: Interest in flavor, by self-segmentation – Dining out, July 2018
                                                                                    • Men seek meaty flavors, while women favor milder, vegetarian flavors
                                                                                      • Figure 33: Interest in flavors, by gender, July 2018
                                                                                    • Supporting foodie profile, younger generations seek range of flavors
                                                                                      • Figure 34: Interest in flavors, by generation, July 2018
                                                                                  • Interest in Flavor by Menu Item

                                                                                    • “Meaty” most popular flavor for mains, “cheesy” sought in side dishes
                                                                                      • Figure 35: Interest in flavor, for main entrees and side dishes, July 2018
                                                                                    • For dessert, consumers seek “sweet,” “fruity,” and “nutty” flavors
                                                                                      • Figure 36: Interest in flavor, for dessert, July 2018
                                                                                    • Breakfast tastes are varied, as consumers embrace a range of flavors
                                                                                      • Figure 37: Interest in flavor, for breakfast, July 2018
                                                                                    • For drinks, “sweet” and “fruity” are dominant flavors
                                                                                      • Figure 38: Interest in flavor, for beverages, July 2018
                                                                                  • LTO Interest

                                                                                    • Half motivated by “unique to restaurant” LTO menu items
                                                                                      • Figure 39: Interest in limited time menu items, July 2018
                                                                                    • Top five LTOs will appeal to over four fifths of diners
                                                                                      • Figure 40: TURF analysis – LTO interest, July 2018
                                                                                    • LTOs appealing to 95% of adventurous eaters
                                                                                      • Figure 41: Interest in limited time menu items, by self-segmentation – Dining out, July 2018
                                                                                    • Sweeter, healthier LTOs appeal to women, “over the top” LTOs to men
                                                                                      • Figure 42: Interest in limited time menu items, by gender, July 2018
                                                                                    • Younger diners eager for range of LTOs, including “over the top” fare
                                                                                      • Figure 43: Interest in limited time menu items, by generation, July 2018
                                                                                    • Parents eager for sweet and indulgent fare in LTOs
                                                                                      • Figure 44: Interest in limited time menu items, by parental status, July 2018
                                                                                  • Attitudes toward Cuisine and Restaurants

                                                                                    • Many open to trendy and international cuisine, but still love comfort food
                                                                                      • Figure 45: Attitudes toward different types of foods, cuisines, and textures, July 2018
                                                                                    • Attitudes support innovation, bigger condiment bars, and savvy servers
                                                                                      • Figure 46: Attitudes toward restaurants, July 2018
                                                                                    • The adventurous embrace trendy and international food
                                                                                      • Figure 47: Attitudes toward different types of foods, cuisines, and textures, by self-segmentation – Dining out, July 2018
                                                                                    • Adventurousness shapes attitudes to servers, condiments, and more
                                                                                      • Figure 48: Attitudes toward restaurants, by self-segmentation – Dining out, July 2018
                                                                                    • Women value texture, and are more open to international, “trendy” fare
                                                                                      • Figure 49: Select attitudes toward food and restaurants, by gender, July 2018
                                                                                    • iGens and Millennials more likely to embrace international, trendy fare
                                                                                      • Figure 50: Select attitudes toward food and restaurants, by generation, July 2018
                                                                                    • Parents’ attitudes show high interest in international and trendy fare
                                                                                      • Figure 51: Select attitudes toward food and restaurants, by parental status, July 2018
                                                                                    • Hispanics value comfort food, eager for wider condiment selection
                                                                                      • Figure 52: Select attitudes toward food and restaurants, by Hispanic origin, July 2018
                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

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

                                                                                                • Figure 53: Table – TURF analysis – LTO interest, July 2018
                                                                                            • Appendix – Consumer

                                                                                                • Figure 54: Interest in flavor, for mains, by generation, July 2018
                                                                                                • Figure 55: Interest in flavor, for mains, by gender, July 2018
                                                                                                • Figure 56: Interest in flavor, for dessert, by gender, July 2018
                                                                                                • Figure 57: Interest in flavor, for dessert, by generation, July 2018

                                                                                            Flavor Innovation on the Menu - US - October 2018

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