Consumers are filling restaurant tables at pre-recession levels, according to Technomic. However, some dining habits that emerged during that belt-tightening period will continue to influence how consumers dine out in 2015 and beyond. “Midscale dining is doing better but must keep reinventing and innovating to continue this path,” says Joe Pawlak, senior vice president at Technomic. “Fine dining has bounced back. Meanwhile, limited-service restaurants, especially fast-casual concepts, continue to bite into the casual dining market, although there is market improvement in this sector.”
Here are six key trends that will shape the foodservice industry for the remainder of 2015, per Technomic.
- Fast Casual Not Slowing Down: This segment continues to outpace all others, growing at 11 percent, compared to 4 percent among quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and 5.6 percent growth in casual dining.
- Build-Your-Own Keeps Building: Within the fast-casual segment, concepts built around customization are growing twice as fast as those that are not.
- Cult Status: QSRs that are doing well — Chick-fil-A and Culver's, to name a few — have developed clearly defined niches, achieved cult-like followings and garner higher check averages.
- Subtracting the Additives: Consumers are demanding to know the backstories on ingredient sourcing and processing; operators are responding with increased menu transparency.
- Tech Becomes Necessary: Online ordering, mobile apps and table tablets fulfill two needs: appealing to Millennials' high-tech and high-speed preferences and supplementing service in a tight labor markets.
- The New Foodie Norm: Food blogs, foodie media and foodservice everywhere mean everyone's a culinary expert; dining needs to be an Instagram-worthy experience.