Restaurants Target Lunch Visitors with Speedy Service

 A new Technomic report points out that lunchtime restaurant visitors value speedy service, convenience, and higher-​quality food. Consumers regularly eat lunch away from home—a couple of days a week, on average. Operators have been focusing their efforts on gaining a larger share of visits during this highly competitive daypart.

Convenience and speed of service are key need  for lunch. However, today's consumers are also calling for higher-​quality fare (80 percent, up from 70 percent in 2011) and unique and innovative lunch items. Additionally, the availability of healthy items and smaller portion sizes continue to factor into today's purchasing decision—especially during weekday lunch visits.

"There are definitely opportunities to take share in the lunch daypart," said Sara Monnette, Sr. Director, Consumer Insights & Innovation at Technomic. "Promotion of premium limited-​time items, staggered portion sizes and better-​for-​you menu specialties could help capture customer attention and drive midday traffic."

Technomic has published an update of its Lunch Consumer Trend Report. Interesting findings include:

  • Consumers demand lunch variety, yet visit a few familiar lunch spots: 60 percent of consumers say that menu variety influences their lunch purchase, yet 47 percent frequent the same lunchtime destinations regularly
  • Diners want appropriately sized lunch portions: three out of 10 consumers (29 percent) expect restaurants to offer smaller lunch portions, and 36 percent (up from 31 percent in 2011) eat a lighter lunch during the week
  • Healthy fare is a strong influencer: consumers say that health factors impact where they purchase lunch during the week (49 percent) and on the weekend (41 percent)
  • Sandwiches are a key platform for lunch-​menu innovation: top trends this year call for pork-​based preparations with a regional flair and trendy Asian-​fusion varieties.

According to AudienceSCAN, about 1/​2 of  frequent restaurant diners are between the ages of 18 and 34. About 1/​2 of these audience members are also urban residents, a rate that is 86% higher than average.  In addition to going out for meals at least 5 times a week, these consumers over-​index for eating out on occasions like New Year's Eve, Thanksgiving and St. Patrick's Day. Restaurants may want to target frequent diners with mobile smartphone apps or text messages to drive traffic as 44% of these consumers have taken action as a result of these promotions in the past 30 days.

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

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.