Foodservice Growth Trends: 2 Key Demographics for F-S Franchisors, Others

Foodservice franchisors and other foodservice operators -- supermarkets included -- looking to drive growth should focus on two key demographics: young adults ages 18 to 34 and health-conscious customers, according to a new report from Packaged Facts.

These groups are “sweet spots” for foodservice operators, noted “U.S. Foodservice Landscape 2010: Restaurant Industry and Consumer Trends.” Some specifics: patrons 18 to 24 years old have more people in their dining party and spend 25 percent more on a per-meal basis. Healthy eaters and “tech-savvy” diners also spend more per visit and tend to have larger party sizes than the average.

What attracts these desirable consumers? Novelty and environmental friendliness were both key ingredients, according to the report. Other factors that will drive success for foodservice include:

• Offering new menu items to attract customers who are already loyal

• Increasing frequency of visits among existing customers with targeted promotions such as loyalty programs, which are especially popular among Gen Y (ages 25 to 34) customers and health-conscious consumers

• “Mix and match” promotions that pair low- and high-margin menu items

• Commitment to sustainability practices

• Online or mobile ordering capabilities

Overall, Packaged Facts’ outlook on the foodservice industry is cautious. Grocery sales were up 4 percent in February, which shows that more consumers are still eating at home to save money, and New York-based Packaged Facts predicts an overall 2 percent decline in restaurant sales this year, with a 2 percent increase in 2011. Sales at full-service restaurants are predicted to decline 4 percent this year, then rise 1 percent next year, while limited-service restaurant sales will decline 1 percent this year and rise 2 percent in 2011.

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