Across the restaurant landscape, technology is growing in importance, from online ordering and Wi-Fi to mobile reservations and paying the bill with smartphones, Technomic reports. High on the list of leading technology restaurants are pizza chains, while The Capital Grille leads the pack on technology implementation among full-service restaurants. Still, the Technomic survey found that the industry as a whole is slow to adopt new technology even though younger clientele note that it is a significant factor in making a choice as to where to dine.
Fast-casual Sector Gains Market Share
Over the past 15 years the fast-casual sector has gained nearly 10% in market share on sandwich and burger chains, The Chain Business Restaurant Review reports. That, in part, helps to explain some of the recent woes of McDonald's, which continues to see its profits drop. Taking the larger view, the shifting tastes of American diners show that the popularity of fast foods is taking a hit from several quarters, including the rise in health consciousness diners to more family out experiences.
McDonald's Experiments With Customer Burgers
In an effort to breathe life into an old concept, McDonald's is serving up a selection of toppings, sauces, cheeses, and buns for its burgers in hopes that diners will be back for more, the company reports. Known as Create Your Taste, the initiative first rolled out in San Francisco and will expand to 2,000 additional McDonald's over the course of the year.
Hispanic Marketing Increases
Realizing the growing importance of Hispanic consumers, the restaurant spend targeting the Hispanic market has grown to more than 11% of the entire advertising market over the past five years. That spend totaled $559 million last year, up 30% from five years ago, Nielsen Plus Monitor reports.
Keeping It Elegantly Simple
Keeping it elegantly simple is good advice for menus... As well as websites, The Washington Post reports. In a recent review of restaurant websites, the paper lambasted overly designed and hard-to-navigate sites that failed to provide viewers with a quick answer to four questions: location, phone number, hours, and menu. Without those four pillars of information, restaurants are wasting the time of potential customers and likely denying themselves new business.
The egg supply will likely not return to normal for a couple of years, NBC News reports. Since the Avian Flu decimated Midwestern chicken farms earlier this year, the industry has struggled to restock its lost bird population and egg prices have soared. While egg-heavy menus have suffered, some restaurants are now attempting to make up the difference by buying eggs from smaller, local farms, but with mixed success. The bottom line--egg prices and egg dishes are going up in price and will not be coming down soon.
Knowing Your Customers
In today's hyper-competitive environment, restaurants need to know their potential customers, at least by type, Technomic says. According to the company's recent research, the archetypical eater types come down to seven:
- Functional Eaters, mostly Millennial males looking for low prices from familiar restaurants;
- Foodservice Hobbyists, who eat out at new and familiar restaurants, are value-conscious, and composed mostly of females with children;
- Busy Balancers are the multi-taskers, substantially comprised of middle- and upper-income Millennial females, looking for foodservice that makes life easier;
- Affluent Socializers are the upper-income Baby Boomers who dine out as a form of entertainment and value quality service over price;
- Bargain Hunters are the low- and middle-income male Baby Boomers driven by low prices and specials;
- Health Enthusiasts are a mixed group of male and female Baby Boomers and Matures who live simply and believe that cooking at home is the healthiest option;
- Habitual Matures are attracted by convenience and price, are mostly male Baby Boomers and Matures with low or fixed incomes, and generally stick to familiar foods served by just a small number of restaurants.
Gulf Shrimp Rebound
Gulf shrimpers are reporting shrimp catches nearly twice as high as last year, the Southern Shrimp Association reports. As of May, more than 10 million pounds of shrimp have been caught in 2015, as opposed to the 5.9 million pounds the previous year. Shrimpers say they still have a long way to go to restore the Gulf shrimp catch, which is still 29% below the prior 13-year average catch.
Olive Garden Cuts Discounts
Darden's Oliver Garden chain is moving to value platforms and away from deep discounts of the past, Nation's Restaurant News is reporting. The Cucina Mia concept introduced last year allows customers to mix and match pastas with different sauces. We are finding Millennials love Cucina Mia because they get to customize their meal. We also find the value-seekers like that entry price point,” Darden CEO Gene Lee told NRN. “Fifty percent of people who enter Cucina Mia at $9.99 do buy an add-on.” The idea has allowed the chain to eliminate deep discounting, and profits are up significantly. That strategy may be something to think about if you want to spice up your own menu and profits.
Sysco Abandons U.S. Foods Merger
Sysco announced Monday that it had decided to terminate its merger agreement with USF. This decision comes on the heels of last week’s news of U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta’s decision to side with the Federal Trade Commission on their position that the merger could harm competition in the foodservice distribution industry.