Part of what makes fast casual a winning formula is the segment’s refusal to follow an all-things-for-all-people mentality. While these concepts certainly appeal to a wide swath of consumers, some diners are more likely than others to visit regularly.
So who are these frequent fast-casual consumers?
Yes, here they are again. Technomic’s study finds that 42 percent of fast-casual consumers are millennials. Compare that to the pool of all restaurant chain-goers, where these young diners make up 30 percent. On the flip side, boomers make up 35 percent of all restaurant users and 26 percent of fast-casual users.
Caucasians make up a majority of the adult population, so it’s no surprise that, at 61 percent, they make up the largest share of fast-casual consumers. Dig a bit deeper into the data, however, and you see that fast-casual chains tend to attract Hispanic consumers more than other chains do. While 16 percent of all people polled in Consumer Brand Metrics were Hispanic, 21 percent of fast-casual visitors were.
Give credit to both their higher check averages and location strategies: 44 percent of fast-casual customers report annual household incomes of $75,000 or more, compared to 33 percent of all restaurant customers. Americans’ average household income was $53,657 in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Technomic breaks down consumers into seven archetypes, based on attitudes, beliefs and dining preferences. Busy Balancers—who purchase food away from home more than any other group, tend to eat healthy, focus on convenience and have above-average incomes—make up about 16 percent of all restaurant chain visitors but about 25 percent of fast-casual consumers.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.