This report explores the US quick service restaurant (QSR) industry in absolute detail. Inside the report are nearly 50 pages of QSR industry analysis, covering the current and forecasted state of the market, consumer trends and demands, and opportunities and competitive strategies for QSRs. Read on to discover some of the expert insight from this report.

QSR Industry Overview

The QSR industry has seen a shift towards digital ordering, off-premise dining, and increased competition from fast casuals as prices have risen. Despite this, QSRs can leverage their brand identities, loyalty rewards, and technology investments to remain competitive and retain their position as an inexpensive yet indulgent dining option.

QSR Consumer Trends

Consumers are unhappy about the increased menu prices at QSRs, as it adds to the already rising cost of food both at home and away from home. To make their fast food purchases more worthwhile, QSRs must provide a higher quality dining experience to justify the added expense. We touch upon how this report provides guidance in the next section, ‘Opportunities for QSRs’.

As QSRs continue to innovate with new technologies such as mobile apps and kiosks, customers may need to adjust to these offerings to take advantage of the convenience they provide. However, there is promise in technology for QSRs. For more information on how innovation and technology are evolving, check out our Future of Foodservice Market Report.

QSR Industry Statistics

  • Consumers are unhappy: 72% of consumers feel that fast food has become too expensive, with 31% strongly agreeing.
  • There is promise in technology: 73% of consumers have used pre-ordering technologies (eg through restaurant websites, mobile apps) at fast food restaurants, and 78% are interested to do this.

Opportunities for QSRs

To respond to consumers who are discontent with price increases, QSRs will need to elevate the dining experience, and one way to do this is through the personalization of the customer experience.

QSRs can differentiate themselves in the crowded foodservice industry by offering personalized loyalty programs that reward customers based on their order histories and preferences, making ordering, payment, and rewards redemption a fast and seamless experience.

Mintel’s Casual Dining Restaurants Market Report also discovered loyalty programs as an opportunity, suggesting a cross-category desire for this from consumers.

For a comprehensive list of opportunities and competitive strategies in the QSR market, buy the full report. Looking for something else? Browse our extensive foodservice market research.

Topics Analyzed in This Report

  • Changes in QSR offerings and the dining experience.
  • Strategies to maintain a competitive edge in an inflationary environment.
  • Consumer preferences for fast food dining.
  • Factors impacting fast food restaurant choices.
  • Consumer attitudes toward the off-premise dining experience.

Segments and Companies Covered

Segments: This report covers the quick service restaurant industry, defined as restaurants providing inexpensive, convenient meals with no waiter service, no alcoholic beverages, and a low price point (eg McDonald’s). Other segments are covered, including fast casual restaurants, limited service restaurants (LSRs), and full service restaurants (FSRs).

Companies: McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, Domino’s, Dunkin’, Smalls Sliders, Del Taco, Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, and more.

Expert Analysis from a Foodservice Specialist

This report, written by Varchasvi, a leading foodservice analyst, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in the US QSR market and add expert context to the numbers.

Fast food restaurants’ competitive edge, value, is at risk amidst economic uncertainty and tightened consumer budgets. QSR operators will need to work harder for consumers’ dining dollars, justifying the increase in menu prices by improving menu offerings, sustaining tech investments and delivering a highly personalized dining experience that builds long-term loyalty.

Varchasvi, Foodservice Analyst, Mintel Menu Insights

Analyst, US Foodservice and Mintel Menu Insights

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas:
        • Definition
          • Market context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top Takeaways
                • Consumer trends
                  • Competitive strategies
                    • Market predictions
                      • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of limited service eating places*, at current prices, 2017-27
                      • Figure 2: Category outlook, 2023-28
                    • Opportunities
                      • Differentiate with a personalized loyalty program experience
                        • Figure 3: QSR new concept interest – Top three responses, 2023
                      • Improved packaging will elevate off-premise dining
                        • Figure 4: QSR technology usage and interest – Select off-premise options, 2023
                      • Build long-term loyalty through ethical initiatives
                        • Figure 5: QSR attitudes – Select ethical considerations, 2023
                    • Market Size and Forecast

                      • LSR segment well-positioned for growth
                        • Figure 6: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of limited-service restaurants*, at current prices, 2017-27
                        • Figure 7: Total US retail sales and forecast of limited service eating places*, at current prices, 2017-27
                    • Market Drivers

                      • Menu prices increase across QSRs
                        • Figure 8: CPI for all urban consumers – Full-service and limited-service meals and snacks, February 2022-23
                      • Tech investments remain steady
                        • Figure 9: New technology investments at QSRs, 2023
                      • QSRs can expect consumer backlash on tipping
                      • Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

                        • Fast food packaging needs an overhaul
                          • Convenience sells
                            • Sports as a route for brand engagement
                              • Figure 10: QSR sports engagement, 2023
                            • Menu Innovation
                              • Snacks as the economical way of dining out
                                • Figure 11: QSR menu launches – Appetizers and snacks, 2023
                              • Moving beverage options beyond fountain soda
                                • Figure 12: QSR beverage launches, 2023
                              • Evoking nostalgia with cult favorites
                                • Figure 13: QSR menu launches – Returning items, 2023
                                • Figure 14: Taco Bell brand fngagement, 2023
                            • The Fast Food Consumer – Fast Facts

                              • Fast food consumer segmentation
                                  • Figure 15: Fast food consumer segmentation, 2023
                              • QSR Ordering

                                • Fast food risks losing its competitive edge
                                  • Figure 16: QSR ordering, 2023
                                • Reduced fast food ordering frequency is an emerging concern
                                  • Figure 17: Change in QSR ordering frequency, 2023
                                • Improvements to access and value will resonate
                                  • Figure 18: Motivators for increased QSR ordering, 2023
                                • Multifaceted industry-wide changes impact ordering frequency
                                  • Figure 19: QSR ordering frequency, 2023
                                • Fast food prices may be excluding the segment’s core target
                                  • Figure 20: Frequent fast food consumers, by household income, 2022-23
                              • Factors Impacting Fast Food Restaurant Choices

                                • New concepts will succeed if the need for fast service is met
                                  • Figure 21: Factors impacting fast food restaurant choice, 2023
                                • Women are value-conscious in their approach to fast food
                                  • Figure 22: Factors impacting fast food restaurant choice – Select items, by gender, 2023
                                • Location, not tech, delivers on convenience for rural and suburban dwellers
                                  • Figure 23: Factors impacting fast food restaurant choice, by area, 2023
                              • QSR Technology Usage and Interest

                                • Design mobile tech to simplify, not overwhelm
                                  • Figure 24: QSR technology usage and interest, 2023
                                • Convenient apps will resonate for suburban, rural consumers
                                  • Figure 25: QSR technology interest, NET, by area, 2023
                              • QSR New Concept Interest

                                • Transparency and customizability are key to healthy eating at QSRs
                                  • Figure 26: New concept interest, 2023
                                • Make healthy eating accessible through loyalty programs
                                  • Figure 27: New concept interest, by gender, 2023
                                • Urban consumers prioritize convenience over value
                                  • Figure 28: New concept interest, by area, 2023
                              • QSR Attitudes

                                • Consumers prefer to dine off-premise
                                  • Figure 29: QSR attitudes – Dining preferences, 2023
                                • Menu and price changes must be accompanied by strong branding
                                  • Figure 30: QSR attitudes – Select items, 2023
                                • Ethics and transparency are key ingredients in creating loyalty
                                  • Figure 31: QSR attitudes – Ethical considerations, 2023
                                • Value for women, convenience for men
                                  • Figure 32: QSR attitudes – Select items, by gender, 2023
                                • Fast, contactless, ethical: the ideal experience for urban dwellers
                                  • Figure 33: QSR attitudes – Select items, by area, 2023
                              • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                • Data sources
                                  • Forecast
                                    • Consumer survey data
                                      • Abbreviations and terms
                                        • Abbreviations
                                        • Appendix – The Market

                                          • Total foodservice market size and forecast
                                            • Figure 34: Total US revenues and fan chart forecast of full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places, 2017-27
                                            • Figure 35: Total US revenues and forecast of full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places*, at current prices, 2017-27
                                          • Inflation-adjusted foodservice market size and forecast
                                            • Figure 36: Total US revenues and forecast of full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2017-27
                                            • Figure 37: Total US retail sales and forecast of limited service eating places*, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2017-27
                                        • Appendix – The Consumer

                                          • Consumer segmentation methodology
                                              • Figure 38: QSR attitudes, by fast food consumer segmentation, 2023

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