This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the US Family Dining Trends market including US Family Dining Trends market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the Family Dining Trends market in the US.

Current market landscape

Families are highly engaged restaurant users, and off-premise restaurant occasions are a key driver; 62% order restaurant meals for takeout for their family. This suggests that parents value the relaxed atmosphere and convenience of dining at home.

The pandemic has served to solidify the advantages of convenience, value, and experience that takeout and delivery procurement methods provide. The industry has a long road ahead in the return to normalcy for in-person family dining, and COVID-19 remains a driver in how families approach restaurant use. More than one quarter of parents cite lack of COVID-19 safety policies at restaurants as a barrier to dining out with their family.

Future market trends in US family dining

While families prefer restaurant over retail for prepared meals, foodservice competition from retail continues to grow, especially after families were reminded of the value and convenience of retail prepared options throughout the pandemic. To remain competitive, restaurants must continue to promote time-saving and affordable meals such as family meal deals or at-home meal kits.

When choosing a restaurant to dine at with their family, menu variety is more important to parents than attentive service, atmosphere, speed or meal deals. The desire for greater menu variety seems to be rooted in the lack of interesting kids’ menu items. Parents are ready to see innovation of sophisticated, healthy and internationally inspired kids’ menu options.

Read on to discover more about this family dining trend report, read our US Restaurant Breakfast and Brunch Trends Market Report 2021, or take a look at our other Food and Foodservice research reports.

Quickly understand family dining trends

  • How and where families tend to order restaurant meals.
  • Changes in family dining behaviors over the last two years, including shifts in preparing food at home and use of takeout/delivery.
  • Factors parents see as barriers to dining at a restaurant with their family.
  • Factors that motivate parents when choosing a restaurant for their family.
  • A look at what menu items kids order and related family dining behaviors.

Covered in this report

Brands include: KFC, Burger King, Del Taco, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Shake Shack, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, Denny’s, Panera, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), Hat Creek Burger Company, CiCi’s Pizza, Golden Corral, Morton’s Steakhouse, Chuck E. Cheese, Rainforest Cafe, Capital Grille, IHOP, Olive Garden, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, Walmart, Chili’s.

Expert analysis from a specialist in family dining in the US

This report, written by Amanda Topper, a leading analyst in the Food and Foodservice sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in the family dining market in the US, and add expert context to the numbers.

Amidst a struggling industry, foodservice operators can lean on families in the return to growth. Beyond procurement enhancements, restaurant operators must place greater emphasis on developing menu variety – giving kids more than the status quo meal. To win family dining business, restaurant operators must focus on speed and convenience, affordable pricing, and kid-friendly amenities.

Amanda Topper, Director – US Research
Amanda Topper
Director, US Research

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas:
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Best- and worst-case forecast value sales of full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places*, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 2: Category outlook, 2022-27
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Popularity of off-premise dining creates opportunity for more in-home experiences
      • Figure 3: Change in family dining behaviors, 2019 and 2021
    • Retail prepared food competition continues to grow
      • Figure 4: Purchase locations, 2021
    • Wait time is a make-it-or-break-it factor for parents
      • Figure 5: Family dining deterrents, 2021
    • Menu variety is key to pleasing the entire household
      • Figure 6: Important factors, 2021
  3. Market Factors

    • Pandemic wreaks havoc on restaurant sales, but outlook improves
      • Figure 7: Best- and worst-case forecast value sales of full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places, at current prices, 2021-26
    • Parents prefer to dine at home
      • Figure 8: Sales of food at home and away from home, 2010-21
    • Lowered consumer confidence will drive families to cut back on restaurant spending
      • Figure 9: Consumer Sentiment Index, 2010-21
    • Families representing smaller share of households challenges market
      • Figure 10: Households by presence of own children, 2010-20
    • The child population: restaurant needs vary by age
      • Figure 11: Population, by age, 2016-26
  4. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Optimize the off-premise dining experience
    • Using tech to make takeout more convenient
    • Experiment with restaurant formats to improve experience
    • Focus on family meal packs to demonstrate value
    • Challenge growth of prepared foods for at-home dining
  5. The Family Dining Consumer: Fast Facts

    • Fact 1: Families skew more heavily towards takeout
    • Fact 2: Menu variety is essential
    • Fact 3: Entertainment may not drive restaurant choice, but it’s helpful
    • Fact 4: Safety concerns are impacting on-premise dining
  6. Ordering Method

    • Takeout offers the broadest to appeal to families
      • Figure 12: Ordering method, 2021
  7. Purchase Locations

    • Families favor restaurant over retail prepared foods
      • Figure 13: Purchase locations, 2021
    • Fast food dominates restaurant purchase locations
      • Figure 14: Restaurant purchase locations, by age, 2021
    • Price-based promotions can keep lower income households engaged
      • Figure 15: Restaurant purchase locations, by household income, 2021
    • Supermarkets battle for the foodservice dollar
      • Figure 16: Retail purchase locations, by age, 2021
  8. Change in Family Dining Behaviors

    • Shift to at-home food prep challenges restaurant sales
      • Figure 17: Change in family dining behaviors, 2021
    • Preference for at-home meal prep may be long-lasting
      • Figure 18: Change in family dining behaviors, 2019 and 2021
    • Convenience is a force for change among young parents
      • Figure 19: Change in family dining behaviors – more often, by age, 2021
    • More affluent parents seek out premium prepared foods for kids
      • Figure 20: Change in family dining behaviors – more often, by income, 2021
  9. Family Dining Deterrents

    • Lengthy delivery time is leading deterrent from family dining
      • Figure 21: Family dining deterrents, 2021
    • Older parents have more barriers to restaurant dining
      • Figure 22: Family dining deterrents, by age, 2021
  10. Important Factors

    • Families need menu variety to cater to entire household
      • Figure 23: Important factors, 2021
    • Older parents look for variety; young parents want kid-specific amenities
      • Figure 24: Important factors, by age, 2021
    • Dads are motivated by experiential factors
      • Figure 25: Chili’s Halloween promotion, 2021
      • Figure 26: Important factors, by parental status, 2021
  11. Kids’ Menu Item Consumption

    • Iconic “Happy Meal” remains an important part of the menu
      • Figure 27: Chick-fil-A promotion, 2021
      • Figure 28: Kids’ menu item consumption, 2021
    • Non-traditional menu items popular among younger parents
      • Figure 29: Kids’ menu item consumption, by age, 2021
    • Dads say their kids are likely to order specialty menu items
      • Figure 30: Kids’ menu item consumption, by parental status, 2021
  12. Family Dining Behaviors

    • Children influence restaurant choice
      • Figure 31: Panera promotion, 2021
      • Figure 32: Family dining behaviors, 2021
    • Older parents let children order off the regular menu
      • Figure 33: Family dining behaviors, by age, 2021
  13. Innovative Family Dining Concepts

    • Kid-friendly restaurant kits offer significant opportunity
      • Figure 34: Innovative family dining concepts, 2021
      • Figure 35: Innovative family dining concepts, 2021
    • Young parents seek innovative entertainment concepts
      • Figure 36: Innovative family dining concepts, by age, 2021
    • Parental interest in innovative family concepts support current behaviors
      • Figure 37: Innovative family dining concepts, by parental status, 2021
  14. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations

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