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Foodservice Landscape in the U.S.: Chain Limited-Service Restaurants


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Driven by incremental improvement in macroeconomic drivers, a brighter consumer outlook, aggressive operator menu innovation and LTO experimentation, quick-service (including fast casual) and snack and beverage restaurant sales are on track for moderate growth. But among consumers, price sensitivity is still top of mind: 68% of limited-service restaurant (LSR) users say low price would influence their decision to go to a fast food restaurant and 24% citing it as “most important.” Operators, also constrained by highly competitive grocery aisle pricing, will have limited pricing power even while they will continue to face guest traffic challenges into 2014. In an environment in which stealing share remains the key to growth, menu innovation and keeping up with broader consumer trends remains essential.

Foodservice Landscape in the U.S.: Chain Limited-Service Restaurants analyses the industry and consumer trends shaping this highly competitive environment, focusing on the quick-service, fast casual, and snack and beverage restaurant segments.

Key content includes:

  • Studying the degree to which 26 different factors influence consumers’ decisions to go to a “fast food restaurant”” and which are the most important factors in that decision, with accompanying demographic analysis and industry responses/examples.
  • Guest traffic analysis for quick-service restaurants and snack and beverage restaurants, with daypart and chain vs. independent share, including 2008-2013 QSR guest traffic trending for the segment’s key consumer groups, and a strong focus on HH income trending by restaurant brand, including leading LSR beef/burger, chicken, pizza, and fast casual chains.
  • Limited-service restaurant menu trending, focusing on menu item penetration by restaurant segment, including depth of menu items, limited-timed offers, mini-size menu items, top proteins, preparation methods, and beverages.
  • Health and wellness trending, including calorie count trends and impact; healthy menu claim trends; clean food trends; kids’ menu health; and healthful restaurant concepts to watch. We also present analysis of two consumer groups with divergent views regarding the importance of nutritional value, regular exercise, healthy diet and weight management. We gauge their restaurant, health and diet preferences, and the relationship to their restaurant brand choices.
  • How technology trends are shaping the limited-service restaurant industry, with a focus on increasingly mobile consumers and emerging mobile payment technologies.
  • Studying the impact of macro-economic drivers on limited-service restaurant industry growth, including an economic forecast through 2014, with supporting macroeconomic analysis; the effect of HH income and employment trends on limited-service restaurants; and the effect of consumer and commodity price trends on limited-service restaurants; with price trends and forecasts.
  • A market size and forecast through 2015 for full-service restaurants, limited-service restaurants, cafeteria/buffets and snack/beverage establishments; same-store sales analysis of major brands by limited-service segment; and consumer restaurant spend trending, by segment.
The report also provides analysis of leading restaurant brands operating in four limited-service restaurant segments: snack and beverage, quick service, fast casual and cafeteria/buffet. For each brand, we assess competitive differentiation; growth strategy; menu development and trending; consumer food lifestyle consumer segmentation analysis; guest traffic trending, by demographic; and sales performance and outlook. Brands analyzed, by segment, include:
  • Baskin-Robbins, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jamba Juice, Starbucks
  • Burger King, Chick-fil-A, KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Sonic, Wendy’s
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill and Qdoba
  • Old Country Buffet


  • Executive Summary
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Report Scope
      • Share of stomach: limited-service restaurant sales analysis
      • Limited-service restaurant macroeconomic analysis
      • Limited-service restaurant industry guest traffic trends
      • Limited-service restaurant menu trends
      • Limited-service restaurant health & wellness trends
      • Limited-service restaurant technology trends
      • Factors influencing the decision to go to a fast food restaurant
      • Leading snack and beverage restaurant chains
      • Leading quick-service restaurant chains
      • Leading fast casual restaurant chains
      • Leading limited-service cafeteria/buffet restaurant chains
  • Share of Stomach Restaurant Sales Analysis
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
      • Market size and forecast
      • Restaurant Performance Index trending positive
      • Same-store sales and guest traffic trends
      • Guest traffic trends
        • Table Restaurant Industry Guest Traffic Share and Guest Traffic Growth, by Restaurant Segment, 2011-2013
      • Unit growth
    • Same-store sales trends, by brand and restaurant segment
      • Snack and beverage restaurant performance & outlook
      • QSR performance & outlook
      • Fast casual performance & outlook
    • Consumer limited-service restaurant spending trends
      • Food at home versus food away from home
        • Table HH Income & Expenditures, Food, Food at Home, Food Away from Home: 2007-2011 Growth
        • Table HH Income & Expenditures, Food, Food at Home, Food Away from Home: 2007-2011 Share
      • Consumer restaurant spending trends
        • Table Consumer Expenditures on Limited-Service and Full-Service Meals and Drinks: 2007-2011 Growth
        • Table Consumer Expenditures on Limited-Service and Full-Service Meals and Drinks: 2007-2011 Share
      • Limited-service restaurant spending trends
        • Table Consumer Expenditures on Limited-Service Meals, Non-Alcoholic Drinks & Alcoholic Drinks: 2007-2011 Growth
        • Table Consumer Expenditures on Limited-Service Meals, Non-Alcoholic Drinks & Alcoholic Drinks: 2007-2011 Share
      • Limited-service restaurant spending trends, by HH Income
        • Table Number of Households & Household Limited-Service Restaurant Spending, by HH Income: 2007 v. 2011
      • Limited-service restaurant spending trends: day part analysis
        • Table Consumer Expenditures on Limited-Service Meals and Non-Alcoholic Drinks, by Daypart: 2007-2011 Growth
        • Table Consumer Expenditures on Limited-Service Meals and Non-Alcoholic Drinks, by Daypart: 2007-2011 Share
      • Breakfast spend trending by HH income
        • Table Number of Households & Household Limited-Service Restaurant Breakfast Spending, by HH Income: 2007 v. 2011
      • Lunch spend trending by HH income
        • Table Number of Households & Household Limited-Service Restaurant Lunch Spending, by HH Income: 2007 v. 2011
      • Dinner spend trending by HH income
        • Table Number of Households & Household Limited-Service Restaurant Dinner Spending, by HH Income: 2007 v. 2011
      • Snack spend trending by HH income
        • Table Number of Households & Household Limited-Service Restaurant Snack Spending, by HH Income: 2007 v. 2011
  • Limited-Service Restaurant Macroeconomic Analysis
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
    • The Big Picture: Moderate economic growth
      • Continued gradual rates of improvement expected
      • Supported by consumer confidence and employment gains
      • Supported by wealth and debt trends
      • Household wealth continues to rebound
      • Improving consumer debt picture: total consumer debt down by 12%
        • Table Consumer Debt Balance, by Type: Amounts, Share & Year Year-Over-Year Comparisons: Q2 2007- Q2 2013
      • How to play continuing economic improvement
    • Influence of HH income trends on limited-service restaurants
      • Economic recovery bypasses lower-income restaurant consumer
      • $150K+ income household growth explodes
      • Middle class shrinks and low-income group rises
        • Table 2009 vs. 2013 HH Income Segment Comparison, by Number of Households & Percentage Change
      • Additional context
    • Influence of employment trends on limited-service restaurants
      • Rise in the unemployment rate results in lower restaurant engagement
      • Too many part-time jobs, not enough full-time jobs
        • Table Full-Time, Part-Time & Total Employment: Number, Share & Year Year-Over-Year Comparisons: July 2007- July 2013
      • Demographic trouble spots persist
        • Table National Employment Rate, by Demographic, w/ Year Year-Over-Year Comparisons: July 2007- July 2013
    • Food price outlook
      • Wholesale food and beverage price trends
        • Table Producer Price Index, by Food and Beverage Type, w/ Year-Over-Year Comparisons: 2007-2013
        • Table Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Price Outlook: 2012-2014
  • Limited-Service Restaurant Industry Guest Traffic Trends
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
    • Quick-service restaurant guest traffic volume
      • Daypart and chain/independent status
      • Key demographics
        • Table Quick-Service Restaurant Guest Traffic Volume Comparisons, by Demographic: 2013
      • Guest traffic volume: daypart and chain/independent status, by demographic
        • Table Quick-Service Restaurant Guest Traffic Volume Comparisons by Daypart and Chain Status, by Demographic: 2013
      • Key demographic guest visit drivers: detailed analysis
        • Table Limited-Service Restaurant Monthly & High-Frequency Use by LSR Segment: 2008-2013
      • 18-24s: more economically pressed, but visits are up
        • Table 2013 Monthly & High-Frequency Use by LSR Segment among 18-24s, w/ 2008-2013 Usage Share Change
      • Blacks: visits are up, but trading up a looming issue?
        • Table 2013 Monthly & High-Frequency Use by LSR Segment among Blacks, w/ 2008-2013 Usage Share Change
      • After post-recession growth, Hispanic traffic trends suggest trouble afoot
        • Table 2013 Monthly & High-Frequency Use by LSR Segment among Hispanics, w/ 2008-2013 Usage Share Change
        • Table 2013 Monthly & High-Frequency Use by LSR Segment Among <$50K HH Income Consumers, w/ 2008-2013 Usage Share Change
        • Table 2013 Monthly & High-Frequency Use by LSR Segment Among <$50K HH Income Consumers w/Kids, w/ 2008-2013 Usage Share Change
      • Brand analysis: usage share by HH income
        • Table 2013 Limited-Service Beef/Burger Chain Usage Share by HH Income & Percentage Usage, by Restaurant Brand
        • Table 2013 Limited-Service Beef/Burger Chain Usage Share by HH Income & Percentage Usage, by Restaurant Brand
        • Table 2013 Limited-Service Pizza Chain Usage Share by HH Income & Percentage Usage, by Restaurant Brand
        • Table 2013 Fast Casual Chain Usage Share by HH Income & Percentage Usage, by Restaurant Brand
      • Snack and beverage guest traffic volume
  • Limited-Service Restaurant Menu Trends
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
    • Menu depth and variety: Reaching the breaking point?
      • Menu expansion at full throttle
      • Challenge-and Catch-22
      • Change in the wind
        • Table Top QSR Burger Restaurants: Number of Items on the Menu, by Restaurant Brand: 2008-2012
    • LTOs provide opportunity for indulgent menu offerings
      • Regulatory exclusion a driver?
    • Going "mini" is still big
      • Table Mini on the QSR Menu: 2010 versus 2012
    • Healthier proteins used in burgers
      • Table Quick-Service Restaurant Burger Protein Penetration: 2010 versus 2012
    • Chicken sandwiches most popular, but pork is gaining traction
      • Table Quick-Service Restaurant Sandwich Protein Penetration: 2010 versus 2012
    • Preparation methods suggest transition to premium space
      • Table Quick-Service Restaurant Preparation Method Penetration: 2010 versus 2012
    • Growth in BFY beverages
      • Table Quick-Service Restaurant Nonalcoholic Beverage Penetration: 2010 versus 2012
  • Limited-Service Restaurant Health & Wellness Trends
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
    • Health and wellness trends impact restaurant menus
      • Fast food is called out as contributing to the girth of Americans
      • Healthy menu claims
        • Table Quick-Service Restaurant Healthy Menu Claims: 2010 versus 2012
      • Clean food movement
      • Health on the kids' menu
      • Concepts to watch: Health-focus
    • Food Fit Consumers versus Non-Food Fit Consumers
      • Food Fit consumers
      • Not Food Fit consumers
        • Table Food Fit and Not Food Fit Consumer Groups: Demographic Analysis
      • Food Fit members watch what they eat
        • Table Food Fit and Not Food Fit Consumer Groups: Fast Food, Calories, and Nutrition Attitudes
      • Food Fit members over index in fast casual restaurant usage
        • Table Food Fit and Not Food Fit Consumer Groups: Indexed Usage of Snack & Beverage, QSR, Fast Casual, and Limited-Service Family Restaurants
      • Snack and beverage brands align with health or indulgence
        • Table Food Fit and Not Food Fit Consumer Groups: Indexed Usage of Baskin Robbins, Dunkin' Donuts, Jamba Juice & Starbucks, by Frequency of Use
      • Wendy's and Chick-fil-A meet the health-indulgent nexus
        • Table Food Fit and Not Food Fit Consumer Groups: Indexed Usage of Burger King, Chick-fil-A, KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Sonic and Wendy's, by Frequency of Use
      • Panera and Chipotle find favor among Food Fit consumers
        • Table Food Fit and Not Food Fit Consumer Groups: Indexed Usage of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread & Qdoba, by Frequency of Use
  • Limited-Service Restaurant Technology Trends
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
    • Tech-savvy consumers demand the same from restaurants
      • Self-service kiosks are viable technology
      • Tablet opportunities-the next big thing
      • Mobile scans are useful in reaching the tech consumer
      • Mobile apps allow for mobile payments and more
    • Connecting to restaurant users via social media
      • Facebook use by snack & beverage restaurant brand
        • Table Facebook Use in Last 30 Days and 16+ Times per Month, by Snack & Beverage Restaurant Brand
      • Facebook use by quick-service restaurant brand
        • Table Facebook Use in Last 30 Days and 16+ Times per Month, by Quick-Service Restaurant Brand
      • Facebook use by fast casual restaurant brand
        • Table Facebook Use in Last 30 Days and 16+ Times per Month, by Fast Casual Restaurant Brand
      • Mobile Segmentation Groups
      • Mobile segmentation by snack & beverage restaurant brand
        • Table Mobile Segmentation Groups: Use of Snack & Beverage Restaurants, by Brand
      • Mobile segmentation by quick-service restaurant brand
        • Table Mobile Segmentation Groups: Use of Quick-Service Restaurants, by Brand
      • Mobile segmentation by fast casual restaurant brand
        • Table Mobile Segmentation Groups: Use of Fast Casual Restaurants, by Brand
  • Factors Influencing the Decision to Use Fast Food Restaurants
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Summary analysis
    • Fast food decision influencers
      • Price, quality, and convenience wield most influence in restaurant choice
      • Incentive-driven decision influencers
        • Table Fast Food Restaurant Price/Incentive-Driven Decision Influencers, by Demographic
      • Quality-driven decision influencers
        • Table Fast Food Restaurant Quality-Driven Decision Influencers, by Demographic
      • Convenience-driven decision influencers
        • Table Fast Food Restaurant Convenience-Driven Decision Influencers, by Demographic
      • Menu-driven decision influencers
      • Menu expansion meets menu variety
        • Table Fast Food Restaurant Menu-Driven Decision Influencers, by Demographic
      • Top 5 "most important" decision influencers
        • Table Top 5 "Most Important" Fast Food Decision Influencers, by Demographic
      • Second five "most important" decision influencers
        • Table Second 5 "Most Important" Fast Food Decision Influencers, by Demographic
  • Snack & Beverage Restaurant Brand Analysis
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Baskin-Robbins
      • Competitive differentiation: Flavor variety and innovation
      • Growth strategy: Getting back to business basics
      • Menu trends
        • Table Baskin-Robbins Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance and outlook
        • Table Baskin Robbins 2008-2012 Same-Store Sales and Systemwide Sales Trends, w/ Quarterly Figures to 2013
    • Dunkin' Donuts
      • Competitive differentiation
      • Growth strategy: Retail expansion
      • Menu trends: Moving beyond breakfast and beverages
        • Table Dunkin' Donuts Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance and outlook
        • Table Dunkin' Donuts 2008-2012 Same-Store Sales and Systemwide Sales Trends, w/ Quarterly Figures to 2013
    • Jamba Juice
      • Competitive differentiation: A healthy lifestyle brand
      • Growth strategy: Innovation of retail format
      • Menu trends
        • Table Jamba Juice Kids' Menu Items: 2013
        • Table Jamba Juice Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance and outlook
        • Table Jamba Juice 2010-2012 Same-Store Sales & Location Trends
    • Starbucks
      • Competitive differentiation: Store experience
      • Growth strategy: Cross-channel development
        • Table Starbucks Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
        • Table Starbucks Selected Menu Item Introductions: 2013
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance and outlook
        • Table Starbucks 2008-2012 Revenue, Same-Store Sales, Sales Mix, &Location Trends
  • Quick-Service Restaurant Brand Analysis
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Burger King
      • Competitive Differentiation: Preparation method
      • Growth Strategy: refranchise, image, menu, and marketing
      • Menu Trends: Something for everyone
        • Table Burger King Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance and outlook
        • Table Burger King Sales Performance: 2010-13
    • Chick-fil-A
      • Competitive differentiation: Cow campaign and closed on Sunday
      • Religious affiliation
      • Growth strategy: Celebrating retail expansion
      • Menu trends: Leveraging health
        • Table Chick-fil-A Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance
    • KFC
      • Competitive differentiation: Family-style
        • Table KFC Selected Bucket/Feast/Bites Menu Item Introductions: 2013
      • Growth strategy: Expanding demographic reach
      • Menu trends: Beyond the bucket
        • Table KFC Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Distribution trends: catering up to bat
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis: trending negative
      • Sales performance: menu innovation may be reversing downward trend
    • McDonald's
      • Competitive differentiation: First mover advantage
      • Growth strategy: Modernize the menu and consumer experience
      • Menu trends: Expanding the beverage menu
        • Table McDonald's Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance and outlook
        • Table McDonald's Global Company-Operated & Franchise Restaurant Count, Sales & Revenue: 2008-2013
        • Table McDonald's U.S. Company-Operated & Franchise Restaurant Count, Sales & Revenue: 2010-2012
    • Pizza Hut
      • Competitive differentiation: Social interaction via digital media
      • Growth strategy: Innovation and value
        • Table Pizza Hut Selected Bucket/Feast/Bites Menu Item Introductions: 2013
      • Menu trends
        • Table Pizza Hut Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance
      • 2013 more difficult
        • Table NPC International, Inc. Revenue, Comparable Store Sales and Sales by Occasion: 2010-2012
    • Sonic
      • Competitive differentiation: Beverage destination
      • Growth strategy: Strengthen marketing efforts
      • Menu trends: Deliver unique menu items and flavor profiles
        • Table Sonic Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance
    • Wendy's
      • Competitive differentiation: Premium QSR
        • Table Wendy's "Right Size, Right Price" Value Menu: 2013
      • Growth strategy: Brand revitalization
      • Menu trends: Unique burgers and sandwiches
        • Table Wendy's Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance and outlook
        • Table Wendy's Sales and Restaurant Unit Metrics: 2010-2012
  • Fast Casual Restaurant Brand Analysis
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Chipotle Mexican Grill
      • Competitive differentiation: Food culture
      • Growth strategy: Brand extension
      • Menu trends: Focus on alcoholic beverages
        • Table Chipotle Mexican Grill Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance: growth tapering, but still strong
        • Table Chipotle Mexican Grill Revenue, Same-Store Sales, and Restaurant Unit Metrics: 2010-2012
    • Qdoba
      • Competitive differentiation: Breakfast
      • Growth strategy: Jettison underperforming units
      • Menu trends
        • Table Qdoba Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
        • Table Qdoba Menu Introductions: 2013
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance and outlook
        • Table Qdoba Average Unit Volume, Same-Store Sales, and Restaurant Unit Metrics: 2008-2012
  • Limited-Service Cafeteria/Buffet Brand Analysis
    • INTRODUCTION
    • Old Country Buffet
      • Competitive differentiation: Variety
      • Growth strategy: A plan to win
      • Menu trends
        • Table Old Country Buffet Food and Beverage Menu Share, by Menu Item Type
      • Consumer food lifestyle segmentation analysis
      • Guest traffic analysis
      • Sales performance: light at the end of the tunnel
  • Appendix
    • Methodology
      • Consumer survey methodology
    • Market size and forecast
    • Report table interpretation
    • Consumer segmentation groups
      • Food Lifestyle
      • Mobile Users
    • Terms and definitions
      • Supermarkets
      • Restaurant categories
      • Limited-service restaurant definitions
      • Full-service restaurant definitions
      • Other definitions

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