15% Drive Thru at Least 3 Times a Week

Offerings are getting leaner at several limited-​service chains after years of adding products to menus, according to "Quick-​service restaurants take a bite out of menus." The shift toward narrower menus is coming amid a demassification of the restaurant industry. Consumers are gravitating toward specialty concepts and away from chains with broader menus. And chains with broad menus aimed at large swaths of customers are ceding business to those specialty chains.

"After years of adding products to menus in an effort to remain relevant, quick-​service restaurant chains have started cutting menu items to increase speed and efficiency," Jonathan Maze reports for NRN.

In 2005, the average quick-​service menu had 80 products, according to the Chicago research firm Datassential. By 2008, the average menu had 94 items. In the years since, that menu size decreased just about every year, down to 85.6 items on average in 2014.

Fast-​casual restaurants and new quick-​service chains are entering the market with narrower, more specialized menus. ‰ÛÏFast casual and new QSRs have very focused menus,‰Û said Jana Mann, senior director of menu trends at Datassential. ‰ÛÏThey might be smaller in size. They focus on one item. If you want the best taco, or you want the best burger, do you go to someone that specializes in them, or one that has a general menu?‰Û

"Existing quick-​service restaurants are responding by cutting menus or limiting menu additions to focus more on quality, speed and service," according to Maze.

‰ÛÏQSRs‰Ûª game is being upped,‰Û Mann said. ‰ÛÏThey now know there is competition with these places and the whole industry is being elevated.‰Û

"Complexity can slow service because workers have to spend time working on many different items. In addition, customers take longer to choose from broad menus, which slows down ordering. The reduced speed is a huge concern in the fast food business that is, after all, about ‰ÛÏfast food.‰Û

Maze writes, "Many franchisees love the idea of a smaller menu because a strategy that stresses simplicity makes it easier to add innovative new products that aren‰Ûªt too complex for them to create. They can add new products and be fast."

For your advertisers who are cutting menus but afraid of cutting out customers, use the AudienceSCAN research on Fast Food Lovers in order to keep them. 20% of Fast Food Lovers have teenagers eating them out of house and home. They are 103% more likely than average to play softball and 17% love to watch boxing matches, so try some tie-​ins with these sports. 34% are active on Instagram ‰ÛÒ this could be a great channel to highlight the BEST of the (pared down) menu items. And you can never go wrong with coupons: 48% of Fast Food Lovers took action after getting a coupon in the mail in the past month.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.