Quick-serve restaurants are gearing up menu changes and promotions to increase sales in 2012. This year isn’t expected to be easy in light of the continued economic challenges. But some analysts believe consumers will spend on meals out when they can get value in return. This attitude should prompt QSR operators to pump up their advertising.
According to Robert Lillegard, writing for QSR Magazine, several trends will be evident in the QSR industry this year:
- Double-sided menus: Restaurant operators may feel they’ve been whipsawed between consumers who say they want healthy foods and those who want to indulge. The best way to keep both segments happy may be to put forth double-sided menus. Consumers can go healthy or not and pay more or not.
- Small Indulgences: After a while, even the most miserly consumer wants to indulge. The family budget typically won’t allow for the kind of restaurant spending that was taking place before the recession. But more consumers will now go out for premium sandwiches at QSR establishments or order a small but luxurious treat at a place like Starbucks.
- Local Ingredients: By their very nature, most large QSR restaurants operate by delivering the same experience whether a patron eats in San Francisco or Boston. But more localization is coming. Consumers are aware that eating fresh local ingredients is better for the environment, their health and the economy and they’ll be looking for these offerings at their QSRs.
- Artisanal: Along with the local movement, consumers are increasingly appreciating the artisanal and hand-crafted trends in the food they enjoy when eating out. QSRs are beginning to experiment with this trend. Operators who have introduced these products say that it is important to go slow and get it right. The credibility earned will boost business.
- Mobile and Online Ordering: More QSRs will begin offering ordering capability through additional channels. This strategy will allow them to build up their customer database. In return, they can use the information they obtain to begin texting and emailing time-sensitive promotions to customers directly.