Food culture and eating norms are changing dramatically. Just as people now shop at an array of food retailers seeking new experiences and flavors such as local, organic, natural and fresh distinctions, so to do consumers look for these same experiences when dining out.
Although traditional dining habits persist (e.g., eating out remains tied to celebration), consumers are increasingly outsourcing food preparation and now eat out as a daily habit. Pair this new behavior with an ongoing cultural fascination with global flavors, diet and health and we see greater demand for menus with fresh, healthy, sustainable, and higher-quality food and beverage options. These changes in food culture are occurring while restaurant operators face new challenges and unprecedented risks as food and beverage supply chains become more brittle due to numerous environmental, social and economic influences.
Now is the time for a new way of thinking about consumers and their many motivations for choosing a restaurant. From our ongoing research, we know that among these wider motivations, convenience and wanting a break from routine cooking are key reasons consumers choose to dine out. With the decision to eat at a restaurant, however, come heightened expectations, as the recent rise of restaurants that successfully promote healthier, higher-quality and fresher menu items has shown consumers that food service can successfully deliver these qualities.
Dining Out 2016 is a comparative look across four restaurant channels: Fast Casual, Coffee Shops, Quick Service/Fast Food and Full Service. The report examines key differences and similarities and then provides an in-depth exploration of each channel.
For each channel, we took an in-depth look at diners’ experience when interacting with a given restaurant within a channel. What makes a restaurant a favorite? Why choose one restaurant over another? How satisfied are customers with their experience and what drives this satisfaction? What is expected from restaurants in terms of quality, healthy offerings, sustainability efforts and food safety? How do they want to interact with technology tools when they are seeking and choosing a food service experience?