Recently Market Force ran a series of studies with over 4,00 consumers to investigate their attitudes and behaviors around fast casual and family restaurants, and a separate study on the consumption of chicken. The findings from both were interesting, but what jumped out to me was a small note of intersection: When asked, just 20% of consumers said that they could easily find ‘healthy chicken items’ at quick serve restaurants. That number climbs nine points to 29% when asked of family casual restaurants. That leaves 60 – 70% behind.
It makes one wonder just how much opportunity there is for a QSR or Fast Casual restaurant to add those choices to appeal to a broader consumer set. Almost half of consumers say it’s EXTREMELY important that restaurants provide nutrition and calorie information, and about a third want portion control. So consumers are actively thinking about how to make healthy choices in restaurants. While clearly we don’t always make healthy choices, many of us want the option. I think this is borne out by another interesting statistic:
In this most recent study, we also looked at which restaurants were favorites. The rankings for the top QSR/Fast Casual category included Five Guys (14.4%), Chick-fil-A (12.5%), Chipotle (7.7%), and Panera Bread (7.3%). When ranking the restaurants on the basis of “healthy choices”, Panera, Chick-fil-A and Chipotle all came out far ahead. These restaurants have created a high perceived value from healthy and high-quality food options. Is there room for more of these healthy choices even in traditionally beef-heavy venues? Do those missing calorie choices add up to more revenue $$? I know many have tried and not always succeeded. Lifestyle changes take time. But I have to ask: Are we missing something?