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US Quick Service Restaurants market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Quick Service Restaurants 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 and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Definition

This Report covers industry trends, consumer attitudes, preferences, and behaviors surrounding QSRs (quick service restaurants). This Report builds on the analysis presented in Quick Service Restaurants – US, May 2017.

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definition:

  • QSRs - Used interchangeably with “fast food,” QSRs specialize in inexpensive, convenient meals that are less expensive than those available at fast casuals. There is typically no waiter service and no alcoholic beverages. Examples include: McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Pizza Hut.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

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

The QSR market is thriving thanks to QSR brands making changes consumers want while still staying true to its brand identity. Value remains a major focus within the QSR market, and most chains are focusing heavily on their low-price options, with many also developing a few premium options in order to attract fast casual customers. Most QSRs have fully embraced technology; nearly all major QSRs are building out their delivery capabilities and adding new in-store technologies such as ordering kiosks and digital menu boards. QSRs are also leveraging social media and building brand loyalty by having a social media persona. Caleb Bryant
Senior Foodservice Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Interest in QSR delivery is fairly low
            • Figure 1: QSR tech use and interest, March 2018
          • New menu items may only drive minimal traffic
            • Figure 2: QSR deal/promotion utilization, March 2018
          • The opportunities
            • Nearly all consumers visit QSRs
              • Figure 3: QSR visitation, March 2018
            • Motivate delivery trial with low fees
              • Figure 4: QSR delivery motivators, March 2018
            • Consumers will pay more for premium options
              • Figure 5: QSR menu item price premium, March 2018
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • QSRs stay ahead of the competition
                • The QSR kids’ meal changes with the times
                  • QSRs benefit from macroeconomic conditions
                  • Market Perspective

                    • Fast casual chains fight among themselves
                      • Casual dining chains’ focus on value is a threat to QSRs
                        • QSRs outperform c-stores
                          • Figure 6: C-stores versus QSRs, January 2018
                        • Grocers may take the biggest bite out of QSR market share
                        • Market Factors

                          • Will Millennial parents kill the Happy Meal?
                            • Figure 7: Behaviors consumers avoid, April 2017
                          • Economic conditions ideal for QSRs
                            • Figure 8: Consumer sentiment index, January 2007 – December 2017
                            • Figure 9: Median household income, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2006-16
                        • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                          • QSRs find the special sauce for success
                            • Chains interact with fans on social media and through new products
                              • Some QSRs reinvent themselves
                                • Delivery, sustainability, and buzzworthy LTOs are the future for QSRs
                                • What’s Working?

                                  • QSRs dominate the restaurant landscape
                                    • Cheap eats become the next battle in the value wars
                                      • Brands find their voice on social media
                                        • Figure 10: Social media engagement rate among QSRs, January 7, 2018-April 6, 2018
                                      • Domino’s snags the #1 pizza spot
                                        • KFC comes back from the brink
                                          • Chicken becomes the trendiest QSR menu item
                                            • QSR extend their brand with new products
                                            • What’s Struggling?

                                              • Subway attempts a turnaround
                                                  • Figure 11: Subway advertisement, “make it what you want”
                                                • Pizza Hut deals with Domino’s; Papa John’s shakes things up
                                                  • Dunkin’ focuses on their strengths
                                                  • What’s Next?

                                                    • QSRs bet big on delivery
                                                      • Packaging goes green
                                                        • QSRs due for a comeback
                                                          • McDonald’s gambles on fresh beef
                                                            • QSR LTOs evolve
                                                              • Veggie burgers coming to a QSR near you?
                                                                  • Figure 12: TV commercial, “SONIC Signature Slingers ‘Getting Away With IT’ :30 Commercial”
                                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                • QSR visitation and satisfaction is high
                                                                  • Consumers visit QSRs for a variety of deals
                                                                    • Interest in QSR tech varies
                                                                      • Build sales with premium options
                                                                      • QSR Visitation

                                                                        • Nine out of 10 consumers eat at QSRs
                                                                          • Figure 13: Restaurant visitation, March 2018
                                                                          • Figure 14: QSR visitation, number of QSR chain types visited, March 2018
                                                                        • iGens/Millennials are core QSR users
                                                                          • Figure 15: QSR visitation, by generation, March 2018
                                                                        • Higher-income HHs have low QSR visitation
                                                                          • Figure 16: QSR visitation, by socioeconomic status, March 2018
                                                                        • Many parents rely on QSRs
                                                                          • Figure 17: QSR visitation, by Millennial parent breaks, March 2018
                                                                          • Figure 18: QSR visitation, by Millennial parent breaks and gender, March 2018
                                                                      • Restaurant Satisfaction

                                                                        • Consumers are satisfied with QSR chains
                                                                          • Figure 19: Restaurant satisfaction, among visitors, March 2018
                                                                      • QSR Customer Demographic/Psychographic Profile

                                                                        • Overview
                                                                          • Moderate/heavy McDonald’s customers
                                                                            • Moderate/heavy Taco Bell customers
                                                                              • Moderate/heavy Chick-fil-A customers
                                                                              • QSR Deal/Promotion Utilization

                                                                                • Classic deals are most common, but new deals can get consumers in the door
                                                                                  • Figure 20: QSR deal/promotion utilization, March 2018
                                                                                • Consumers take advantage of many deals
                                                                                  • Figure 21: QSR deal/promotion utilization, number of deals/promotions used, March 2018
                                                                                • Bundled meals are a hit with iGens
                                                                                  • Figure 22: QSR deal/promotion utilization, top five deals by generation, indexed against all consumers, March 2018
                                                                                • A deal for every consumer type
                                                                                  • Figure 23: QSR deal/promotion utilization, by socioeconomic status, March 2018
                                                                                • Motivate Millennial parents with deals
                                                                                  • Figure 24: QSR deal/promotion utilization, by Millennial parent breaks, March 2018
                                                                                  • Figure 25: QSR deal/promotion utilization, by Millennial parent breaks and gender, March 2018
                                                                              • QSR Tech Use and Interest

                                                                                • Consumers still cool toward QSR delivery
                                                                                    • Figure 26: QSR tech use and interest, March 2018
                                                                                  • QSR delivery users: demographic profile
                                                                                    • Figure 27: QSR third-party delivery users, demographic profile, indexed against all consumers, March 2018
                                                                                • QSR Delivery Motivators

                                                                                  • Consumers want cheap and fast delivery
                                                                                    • Figure 28: QSR delivery motivators, March 2018
                                                                                  • QSR delivery isn’t for everyone
                                                                                    • Figure 29: QSR delivery motivators, by third party delivery use/interest, March 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 30: QSR delivery motivators, by generation, March 2018
                                                                                  • Millennial parents are an important potential consumer group
                                                                                    • Figure 31: QSR delivery motivators, by Millennial parent breaks, March 2018
                                                                                • QSR Menu Item Interest and Price Premium

                                                                                  • High interest in premium, fresh options
                                                                                    • Figure 32: QSR menu item interest, March 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 33: QSR menu item price premium, March 2018
                                                                                  • Fresh beef burgers are universally appealing
                                                                                    • Figure 34: QSR menu item interest, by gender and age, March 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 35: QSR menu item price premium, would pay $2+, by gender, March 2018
                                                                                • QSR Desired Improvements

                                                                                  • QSRs need to find a balance
                                                                                    • Figure 36: QSR desired improvements, March 2018
                                                                                  • Smart menu changes can attract new consumers
                                                                                    • Figure 37: QSR desired improvements, healthy choices, by gender and age, by socioeconomic status, March 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 38: QSR desired improvements, by generation, March 2018
                                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                  • Data sources
                                                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                                                      • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                          • Terms