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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 US - Quick Service Restaurants: Incl Impact of COVID 19 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

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the restaurant industry hard, forcing restaurants to ban dine-in traffic across nearly all US states and shift toward takeout and delivery. However, QSRs are arguably in the best position to handle the sudden influx of off-premise traffic. The technology investments many operators made to improve online ordering, delivery, and drive-thru experiences pre-pandemic will be important during and after the pandemic as diners look for fast and safe meals. The segment will also benefit from its focus on value, comfort food, and consistency, areas diners are gravitating toward now, more than ever.

All reports purchased from the Mintel Store now come with free access to our COVID-19 Global Insights Hub, allowing you to understand how industries and consumer behaviour is changing worldwide.


What does the COVID-19 Global Insights Hub give you access to?

  • Over 450 pieces of research (with more published each week) addressing markets across the globe.
  • Discover how people in countries at different stages of the crisis are adjusting to the 'new normal'.
  • Trending industries which have seen growth due to the changes in circumstance.
  • Our latest consumer research surveys, allowing you to see customers views right now.

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.

QSR sales will look much different than those in 2019, along with restaurant industry sales as a whole, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, QSRs are uniquely poised to overcome COVID-19-related economic strain and hardship due to their lower price points and continued investments in takeout, drive-thru and delivery services. QSRs will likely steal more market share from full service competitors in 2020 and beyond Jill Failla
Foodservice Analyst

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What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Definition
        • Executive Summary

            • Market overview
              • Figure 1: Total US retail sales and forecast of limited service restaurants*, at current prices, 2019-24
            • Impact of COVID-19 on QSRs
              • Figure 2: Short, medium and long term impact of COVID-19 on QSRs, April 2020
            • Top takeaways
              • The issues
                • Dining out will suffer in a recession
                  • Figure 3: Spending cuts after job loss – NET any rank, November 2019
                • Drive-thrus see increased legal bans
                  • Figure 4: Fast food purchase drivers, by demographics, February 2020
                • The opportunities
                  • Parents are increasingly relying on fast food to feed their family
                    • Figure 5: Fast food purchases for children year over year, by parental status, February 2020
                  • Gen Zs and Millennials are driving the shift of fast food consumption to off-premise
                    • Figure 6: Fast food dining behaviors year over year, by generation, February 2020
                    • Figure 7: Change in takeout and delivery behavior, April 2020
                  • QSRs must continue to invest in environmentally friendly packaging
                    • Figure 8: Fast food innovative concept interest, by age, February 2020
                  • What’s next
                  • The Impact of COVID-19 on QSRs

                      • Figure 9: Short, medium and long term impact of COVID-19 on QSRs, April 2020
                    • Opportunities and Threats
                      • The US restaurant industry will become smaller
                        • Foodservice retail threat will cut in
                          • Off-premise investments will reward QSRs
                            • Figure 10: Change in takeout and delivery behavior, April 2020
                          • Mintel’s Global Trend Pillars Localism, Community will motivate restaurant visitation
                            • Figure 11: Popeyes TV campaign, April 2020
                          • Driven by consumers’ desire for nostalgia, QSR comfort food will win short-term sales gains
                            • Figure 12: McDonald’s video campaign, March 2020
                          • Value and family meals will take center stage in the short and medium terms
                            • Figure 13: Chick-fil-A email “Introducing easy meal ordering to feed your family,” April 3, 2020
                          • Impact on the QSR market
                            • 2020 LSR sales nosedive because of COVID-19
                              • Figure 14: Total US retail sales and forecast of limited service restaurants*, at current prices, 2019-24
                            • How the crisis will affect QSRs’ key consumer segments
                              • Consumers overall, including key segments, are choosing grocery over restaurants and will continue to do so to some extent in the longer-term
                                • Figure 15: COVID-19 lifestyle changes, March - April 2020
                              • Core customers slightly more reliant on QSRs that consumers overall, underscoring the importance of continued communication and connection
                                • Figure 16: Fast food restaurant visitation, by select demographics, February 2020
                              • But a lack of dine-in service will hurt QSRs’ appeal to core users into the medium-term
                                • How a COVID-19 recession will reshape the QSR industry
                                  • Dining out will take a big hit if US enters a recession
                                    • Figure 17: Spending cuts after job loss – NET any rank, November 2019
                                    • Figure 18: Spending cuts after job loss – NET any rank, by gender, November 2019
                                  • COVID-19: US context
                                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                    • LSRs will see sharp sales declines due to COVID-19
                                      • Dining out will suffer during a recession
                                        • Fast casual growth slows
                                        • Market Size and Forecast

                                            • 2020 LSR sales nosedive because of COVID-19
                                              • Figure 19: Total US retail sales and forecast of limited service restaurants*, at current prices, 2019-24
                                          • Market Breakdown

                                            • Fast casual restaurants continue to steal share from QSRs, but at a slower pace year over year
                                              • Figure 20: percentage share of Top 200 limited service restaurant sales, by segment, 2017-18*
                                              • Figure 21: Top 200 limited service restaurant sales and percentage sales growth, by segment, 2016-18*
                                          • Market Perspective

                                            • Segment blurring deepens
                                              • Retailers compete with QSR convenience
                                              • Market Factors

                                                • Drive-thru bans
                                                  • Dining out will take a big hit if US enters a recession
                                                    • Figure 22: Spending cuts after job loss – NET any rank, November 2019
                                                    • Figure 23: Spending cuts after job loss – NET any rank, by gender, November 2019
                                                • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                                                  • Winning QSR chains excel in technology, value
                                                    • Off-premise business takes over
                                                      • Plant-based and chicken innovation dominates QSR menus
                                                        • Environmentally friendly takeout packaging will move center stage
                                                        • QSR Chain Landscape

                                                          • Trend drivers – what motivates consumer visitation among Top 10 QSR chains?
                                                              • Figure 24: Mintel’s Global Trend Drivers and Pillars
                                                              • Figure 25: Leading 10 QSR chains among top 200 chains, 2017-18*
                                                            • Chick-fil-A taps into value and technology to jump ahead four spots in Top 200 restaurant chain ranking
                                                              • Domino’s dominates technology and value, and gains from Papa John’s identity struggles
                                                                • Starbucks wins with surrounding, technology and experiences to maintain strong growth
                                                                • What’s Working

                                                                  • Off-premise investments
                                                                    • Figure 26: Change in takeout and delivery behavior, April 2020
                                                                  • Loyalty programs
                                                                    • Plant-based innovation
                                                                      • Chicken menu items hatch across QSRs
                                                                      • What’s Struggling

                                                                        • Breakfast wars rage on
                                                                        • What’s Next?

                                                                          • Moveable feasts
                                                                            • Ghost restaurants
                                                                              • Mobile kitchens
                                                                                • A nostalgic return to comfort
                                                                                  • Figure 27: McDonald’s video campaign, March 2020
                                                                                • Environmentally friendly takeout packaging
                                                                                • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                  • Parents are key to QSR business
                                                                                    • Cost concerns stymie QSR menu innovation
                                                                                      • Young consumers drive demand for more eco-friendly QSR packaging
                                                                                      • Fast Food Restaurant Visitation

                                                                                        • Young dads are core fast food customers
                                                                                          • Figure 28: Fast food restaurant visitation, by select demographics, February 2020
                                                                                      • Fast Food Purchase Drivers

                                                                                        • Fast service is more important than special deals at fast food restaurants
                                                                                          • Figure 29: Fast food purchase drivers, February 2020
                                                                                        • Fast service will eventually become more important than location of fast food restaurants
                                                                                          • Figure 30: Fast food purchase drivers, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                        • Drive-thru service is important for Hispanic visitation to QSRs
                                                                                          • Figure 31: Fast food purchase drivers, by race and Hispanic origin, February 2020
                                                                                        • QSRs can win business from higher income consumers with a nice atmosphere and healthy menu options
                                                                                          • Figure 32: Fast food purchase drivers, by income, February 2020
                                                                                        • Moms rely on the drive-thru
                                                                                          • Figure 33: Fast food purchase drivers, by parental status, February 2020
                                                                                        • Healthy options can improve fast food purchases by 8%
                                                                                          • Figure 34: TURF Analysis – Fast food purchase drivers, February 2020
                                                                                      • Fast Food Technology

                                                                                        • About half of consumers are uninterested in third-party delivery from fast food restaurants
                                                                                          • Figure 35: Fast food technology, February 2020
                                                                                        • Consumers are increasingly engaging with QSR technology
                                                                                          • Figure 36: Year-over-year fast food technology usage and intent, February 2020 and February 2019
                                                                                        • Young Millennials drive growth of QSR technologies
                                                                                          • Figure 37: Fast food technology, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                        • Black and Hispanic consumers are biggest users of fast food delivery
                                                                                          • Figure 38: Fast food technology, by race and Hispanic origin, February 2020
                                                                                        • Parents are much more likely than non-parents to use QSR tech
                                                                                          • Figure 39: Fast food technology, by parental status, February 2020
                                                                                          • Figure 40: Chick-fil-A email “Introducing easy meal ordering to feed your family,” April 3, 2020
                                                                                      • Innovative Fast Food Technology Interest

                                                                                        • Nearly half of QSR customers want dedicated drive-thru lanes for mobile/online order pickups
                                                                                            • Figure 41: Innovative fast food technology interest, February 2020
                                                                                          • Gen Zs drive interest in mobile-based subscription programs at QSRs
                                                                                            • Figure 42: Innovative fast food technology interest, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                          • Non-White consumers look for more innovative QSR tech
                                                                                            • Figure 43: Innovative fast food technology interest, by race and Hispanic origin, February 2020
                                                                                          • City fast food stores should consider testing walk-up windows
                                                                                            • Figure 44: Innovative fast food technology interest, by area, February 2020
                                                                                        • Fast Food Menu Item Interest

                                                                                          • Value meals and snacks are expectations at QSRs
                                                                                            • Figure 45: Fast food menu item interest, February 2020
                                                                                          • Gen Zs won’t pay for premium meats at QSRs
                                                                                            • Figure 46: Fast food menu item interest, February 2020
                                                                                          • Black and Asian QSR customers drive interest in meatless menu items
                                                                                            • Figure 47: Fast food menu item interest, by race and Hispanic origin, February 2020
                                                                                          • Higher income QSR consumers are most interested in global bowls and plant-based burgers
                                                                                            • Figure 48: Fast food menu item interest, by household income, February 2020
                                                                                        • Fast Food Dining Behaviors Year over Year

                                                                                          • Parents increasingly lean on fast food meal solutions
                                                                                            • Figure 49: Fast food dining behaviors year over year, February 2020
                                                                                          • Dads in particular rely on fast food
                                                                                            • Figure 50: Fast food dining behaviors year over year, by parental status and gender, February 2020
                                                                                          • Young consumers are increasingly eating their fast food off-premise
                                                                                            • Figure 51: Fast food dining behaviors year over year, by generation, February 2020
                                                                                        • Fast Food Innovative Concept Interest

                                                                                          • Fast food consumers want to see more eco-friendly packaging options
                                                                                            • Figure 52: Fast food innovative concept interest, February 2020
                                                                                          • 18-34 year olds are driving the demand for better QSR packaging
                                                                                            • Figure 53: Fast food innovative concept interest, by age, February 2020
                                                                                          • Black consumers show highest interest in functional QSR ingredients
                                                                                            • Figure 54: Fast food innovative concept interest, by race and Hispanic origin, February 2020
                                                                                          • Parents drive demand for trendy and high protein diet fare at QSRs
                                                                                            • Figure 55: Fast food innovative concept interest, by parental status, February 2020
                                                                                        • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                          • Data sources
                                                                                            • Sales data
                                                                                              • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                • Direct marketing creative
                                                                                                  • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                                                                      • Terms
                                                                                                      • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                                                        • TURF Methodology

                                                                                                        About the report

                                                                                                        This report will give you a complete 360-degree view of your market. Not only is it rooted in robust proprietary and high-quality third-party data, but our industry experts put that data into context and you’ll quickly understand:

                                                                                                        • The Consumer

                                                                                                          What They Want. Why They Want It.

                                                                                                        • The Competitors

                                                                                                          Who’s Winning. How To Stay Ahead.

                                                                                                        • The Market

                                                                                                          Size, Segments, Shares And Forecasts: How It All Adds Up.

                                                                                                        • The Innovations

                                                                                                          New Ideas. New Products. New Potential.

                                                                                                        • The Opportunities

                                                                                                          Where The White Space Is. How To Make It Yours.

                                                                                                        • The Trends

                                                                                                          What’s Shaping Demand – Today And Tomorrow.

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

                                                                                                        Description