CHICAGO, July 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Limited-service restaurants (LSRs) are the driving force behind the commercial foodservice industry. LSRs accounted for more than half ($200 billion) of total industry sales despite their low check averages in comparison to full-service restaurants.
Ten years ago LSRs made up 47 percent of the total commercial foodservice industry while full-service restaurants (FSRs) made up 53 percent. Now the landscape has reversed; LSRs account for 53 percent and FSRs 47 percent. Within the LSR segment fast-casual restaurants continue to gain market share while fast-food restaurants are working overtime to upscale their menu and concept positioning – not only to keep pace, but to compete directly with fast-casual leaders.
"The key to LSR growth is differentiation," says Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. "Many LSRs that have demonstrated growth have a broad consumer appeal, yet each has a discerned approach. Consumers are looking for fresh, better quality ingredients, a contemporary decor and ambiance, and interactive service formats to offer something unique and enhance the customer experience."
Fast-food patronage thrives on its convenience and value, while food distinction and ambiance are key factors driving patronage at fast-casual locations. Look for a blurring of the lines between fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, with operators in each subsegment tweaking their concepts with new unit designs and convenient service formats in order to remain competitive.
Consumer disparity - 72 percent of consumers visit fast-food restaurants once a week or more, while only half (49 percent) visit fast-casual restaurants, partly because there are fewer locations but also because they are more attractive to higher income consumers.
Lunch patronage - Consumers visit fast-food and fast-casual restaurants for lunch more often than for any other daypart; 21 percent purchase fast-food lunches at least twice a week and 19 percent visit fast-casual restaurants, largely due to time pressures.
Menu incidence - Breakfast sandwiches have grown by 35 percent at fast-food restaurants and by 29 percent at fast-casual chains, showing the strength of breakfast entrees at LSRs.
Health and wellness - Gluten free options and the growing importance of better-for-you kids' meals continue to guide better-for-you LSR menu development.
Global inspiration - Street food influences continue. Rustic, handheld street foods with a global spin have helped LSR menu developers create unique and craveable offerings. Consumers are looking for new flavor supplements for their sophisticated palettes.
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