Fast Casual Marketers to Take Lead in Promotions

by | 2 minute read

The restau­rant indus­try is still strug­gling to return to pre-reces­sion busi­ness lev­els. The one seg­ment which has fared bet­ter than all oth­ers is fast casu­al. With the total num­ber of units grow­ing again, oper­a­tors are mar­ket­ing new menu offer­ings to get con­sumers to come through the door, or at least place an order with their smart­phone.

Tech­nom­ic, an indus­try-spe­cif­ic research shop, just pub­lished its 2011 Top 100 Fast-Casu­al Chain Restau­rant Report. Top lev­el data from the report shows that the fast-casu­al sec­tor achieved 2010 rev­enue of $18.9 bil­lion, a 6% increase over the pre­vi­ous year. In addi­tion, about 15,827 units now com­pete in the space, mark­ing a 3.9% growth rate.  The suc­cess of the fast-casu­al oper­a­tors has not gone unno­ticed. Dar­ren Tris­tano, Tech­nom­ic Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent says quick ser­vice con­cepts “are revamp­ing their offer­ings and décor in an attempt to pro­vide val­ue beyond low prices and take back mar­ket share.”

In the fast casu­al sec­tor, the fol­low­ing trends are notice­able and like­ly gen­er­at­ing ad cam­paigns:

  • Bak­ery cafes are the lead­ing menu cat­e­go­ry with the most sales – linked to the key play­er – Pan­era Bread.
  • The fastest grow­ing menu cat­e­gories in the Top 100 Chains are ‘bet­ter burg­er’ (+16.1%), Asian/noodle (+10.1%) and Mex­i­can (+9%).
  • Adult bev­er­ages are a ‘dif­fer­en­tia­tor’. About 40% of fast-casu­al oper­a­tors now offer beer, wine and or spir­its and that num­ber is expect­ed to grow.

As the com­pe­ti­tion heats up between the fast-casu­al and quick-ser­vice sec­tors, look for oper­a­tors to use mar­ket­ing cam­paigns to posi­tion them­selves as unique.

[Source: Fast-casu­al restau­rant growth con­tin­ues to out­pace rest of indus­try. Tech­nom­ic. Com. 16 May 2011. Web. 7 Jun. 2011]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice Pres­i­dent of Research for Sales­Fu­el. She holds a Mas­ters in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ver­mont and over­sees a staff of researchers, writ­ers and con­tent providers for Sales­Fu­el. Pre­vi­ous­ly, she was co-own­er of sev­er­al small busi­ness­es in the health care ser­vices sec­tor.