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Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Dining Out Dayparts market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report covers consumer preferences, attitudes, and behaviors toward different dining out dayparts, focusing on the traditional meal occasions and sub-occasions, such as happy hours, snacking, and brunch. This report also delves into the types of foods consumed for each of these dayparts.

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

  • QSRs (quick-service restaurants) – Used interchangeably with “fast food,” QSRs specialize in inexpensive, convenient meals. There is no waiter service, no alcoholic beverage service, and a low price point. 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. Fast casuals do not offer waiter service and may or may not serve alcohol. Examples include: Chipotle, Panera Bread, Shake Shack, and Blaze Pizza.
  • LSRs (limited-service restaurants) – These establishments provide food services where customers usually select and order items and pay before dining. Food and 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.
  • 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, and menu claims, grouped into six major categories from macro restaurant, menu, plate, item dish, and beverage to micro ingredient detail.

What you need to know

Lunch and dinner, followed by breakfast, are still the core dining out occasions. However, the majority of consumers also dine out at least once in the past three months for brunch and dessert dayparts – pointing to the growth of less-common dayparts. Younger consumers dine out more for nontraditional dayparts, such as snacking and late night, and these are the same consumers who over index for nontraditional dining out motivators such as drink options and innovative menu items. With the majority of consumers dining out for special occasions and for an indulgent meal, it’s clear that restaurants are heavily viewed as a treat occasion.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Jill Failla, a leading analyst in the Foodservice sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Restaurants are facing increased daypart competition from retailers as well as a decline in traffic overall, but particularly for the three traditional dayparts. To combat growing threats, foodservice operators will need to leverage more on-demand dining and nontraditional dayparts, and target young people, who are the biggest consumers of both. Jill Failla
Foodservice Analyst


What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Dayparts are blurring
            • Figure 1: Dining occasion frequency – Repertoire analysis, July 2018
          • Nontraditional daypart users over index for retail prepared food purchases
            • Figure 2: Restaurant competition – Any retail,^ by daypart occasion frequency – Any dining out, July 2018
          • Automation should not come at the expense of good hospitality
            • Figure 3: Restaurant factors – Any rank, July 2018
          • The opportunities
            • On-demand dining could boost incremental traffic
              • iGens are most likely to dine out for snacks and late-night occasions
                • Figure 4: Dining out occasion frequency – Any, by generation, July 2018
              • Meals in bowls offer daypart flexibility
                • Figure 5: Food consumption correspondence map, July 2018
              • Frequent daypart users prioritize unique restaurant factors
                • Figure 6: Restaurant factors – Any, by dining out occasion frequency – Any, July 2018
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • Slumping restaurant traffic constricts away-from-home food sales
                  • More people are working side gigs
                    • Retailers attract nontraditional daypart diners for meals
                    • Market Factors

                      • Away-from-home sales falter this year
                        • Figure 7: BEA food sales at home and away from home, January 2010-August 2018
                      • Slumping restaurant traffic constricts industry
                        • Figure 8: National Restaurant Association restaurant performance index, August 2018
                      • Rise of the “gig economy”
                        • Figure 9: US Federal Reserve Board report on percentage of consumers engaged in gig^ work, May 2018
                    • Market Perspective

                      • Retail goes head-to-head with restaurant dayparts
                        • Figure 10: Restaurant competition – Any retail,^ by daypart occasion frequency – Any dining out, July 2018
                    • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                      • Late-night and snacking menus abound
                        • Traditional dayparts struggle
                          • New off-premise opportunities will arise
                          • What’s Working?

                            • On-demand dining drives dayparts
                              • Figure 11: Specialty's Cafe & Bakery email, “Dinner Made Easy with Specialty’s,” September 2018
                            • Nontraditional dayparts
                              • Figure 12: Applebee’s email, “Beer + ½ priced apps? Late. Night. Made.”
                            • Snacking menus satisfy consumers anytime
                            • What’s Struggling?

                                • Breakfast
                                  • Figure 13: McDonald’s email, “McDelivery is in the house”
                                • Lunch
                                  • Figure 14: Olive Garden email, “New Lunch Duo! And just $6.99 this week only!”
                                  • Figure 15: TGI Fridays email, “Grab lunch at Fridays starting at $7”
                                  • Figure 16: Chili’s email, “It's been a while! Come enjoy lunch at Chili's and your drink is on us”
                                • Dinner
                                • What’s Next?

                                  • On-site dayparts will support off-site dayparts
                                    • Alcohol to go
                                      • Catering will boost more off-premise restaurant sales
                                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                        • Younger consumers dine out for just about any occasion
                                          • Frequent daypart users prioritize unique restaurant factors
                                            • Women are more likely to seek out indulgent menu items and give into their cravings
                                            • Dining Out Occasion Frequency

                                              • Lunch and dinner are core dining out occasions, followed by breakfast
                                                • Figure 17: Dining out occasion frequency – Any, July 2018
                                              • Over two fifths of consumers dine out for dinner once a week or more
                                                • Figure 18: Dining out occasion frequency, July 2018
                                              • Consumers aged 18-34 over index for nontraditional dining occasions
                                                • Figure 19: Dining out occasion frequency – Any, by age, July 2018
                                              • iGens particularly love to snack and dine out late
                                                • Figure 20: Dining out occasion frequency – Any, by generation, July 2018
                                              • Most consumers dine out for more than three different occasions
                                                • Figure 21: Dining occasion frequency – Repertoire analysis, July 2018
                                              • Men and younger consumers drive restaurant occasion variety
                                                • Figure 22: Dining occasion frequency – Repertoire analysis, by gender and age, July 2018
                                            • Dining Out Occasion Motivators

                                              • Social occasions drive restaurant visitation
                                                • Figure 23: Dining out occasion motivators, July 2018
                                              • Alcohol motivates more iGens than Millennials to visit restaurants
                                                • Figure 24: Alcoholic beverage occasion motivators, by generation, July 2018
                                              • Parents use restaurants to visit with family and save time
                                                • Figure 25: Dining out occasion motivators, by parental status, July 2018
                                              • More women seek indulgent dining occasions, while more men seek healthy dining occasions
                                                • Figure 26: Dining out occasion motivators, by gender, July 2018
                                            • Restaurant Factors

                                              • Service quality is more important than restaurant location or cuisine type
                                                • Figure 27: Restaurant factors – Any rank, July 2018
                                              • iGen cares the most about drink options of any generation
                                                  • Figure 28: Restaurant factors – Any rank, by generation, July 2018
                                                • Restaurant location most important for those dining out for fewer occasions
                                                  • Figure 29: Restaurant factors – Any rank, by repertoire analysis, July 2018
                                                • Traditional daypart diners prioritize location, service, and cuisine type
                                                  • Figure 30: Restaurant factors – Any rank, by dining out occasion frequency – Any, July 2018
                                              • Eating Behaviors

                                                • Over half of consumers primarily dine out to spend time with friends and family
                                                    • Figure 31: Eating behaviors, July 2018
                                                  • More women say they primarily dine out to spend time with friends or family
                                                    • Figure 32: Eating behaviors, by gender, July 2018
                                                  • Lower-income consumers are most likely to eat small meals throughout the day and skip breakfast
                                                    • Figure 33: Eating behaviors, by household income, July 2018
                                                  • Alyssa eats healthier during the week and in the mornings
                                                    • Figure 34: Eating behaviors, by consumer segmentation, July 2018
                                                • Food Consumption by Daypart

                                                  • Bowls are nearly as flexible as sandwiches when it comes to dining out dayparts
                                                    • Figure 35: Food consumption correspondence map, July 2018
                                                    • Figure 36: Food consumption, by daypart, July 2018
                                                  • Young male consumers overwhelmingly drive consumption of bowls
                                                    • Figure 37: Food consumption – Any occasion, by gender and age, July 2018
                                                    • Figure 38: Food consumption – Any occasion, by age, July 2018
                                                • Dining Out Attitudes

                                                  • Only 18% of consumers have a weekday restaurant lunch routine
                                                    • Figure 39: Dining out attitudes, July 2018
                                                  • Women are more likely to give into their restaurant cravings
                                                    • Figure 40: Dining out attitudes, by gender, July 2018
                                                  • Middle-aged consumers are the most likely to feel comfortable dining out alone and to have a weekly restaurant lunch routine
                                                    • Figure 41: Dining out attitudes, by age, July 2018
                                                  • Higher-income diners are least prone to give into restaurant cravings
                                                    • Figure 42: Dining out attitudes, by household income, July 2018
                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                  • Data sources
                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                      • Consumer qualitative research
                                                        • Direct marketing creative
                                                          • Mintel Food and Drink Shopper segmentation
                                                            • Terms
                                                            • Appendix – The Market

                                                              • Restaurant Performance Index
                                                                • Figure 43: National Restaurant Association restaurant current situation index by indicators, April-August 2018
                                                            • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                • Figure 44: Restaurant competition, July 2018
                                                              • Correspondence Analysis
                                                                • Methodology

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                                                                Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.