As retail bakers look for valuable insight into key consumer trends, a new report helps pave the way. Halfway through 2015, Technomic research experts have taken stock of the market forces and menu trends emerging in the retail food industry. Overall, consumers are filling tables at pre-recession levels. However, some dining habits that emerged during that belt-tightening period continue to influence how consumers dine out in 2015 and beyond. Technomic’s experts conducted interviews and surveys among operators, chefs and consumers. They pinpointed six key trends:
- 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 demand to know the back stories on ingredient sourcing and processing, and 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.