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Technomic sees upside for family-style restaurants as consumers remain budget-conscious

CHICAGO (June 14, 2010)—Family-style restaurants are well-positioned in this economy, offering reasonable prices, diverse menus served across all dayparts, including late-night dining, and a family-friendly atmosphere, confirms new research from foodservice industry consultant Technomic.

More than two-thirds of consumers (68 percent) say they would be highly likely to visit a family-style restaurant when they want an affordable sit-down meal, indicating that consumers think that these locations may offer a better value proposition than other types of full-service restaurants.

“Family-style restaurant operators may want to tout this strength and leverage it in their marketing message to compete with limited-service restaurants and appeal to consumers who have cut back on casual-dining concepts,” says Joe Pawlak, Technomic vice president. “Keys for success in this segment will be emphasizing affordable prices, service, and ambiance, targeting selective promotions at certain consumer groups and relaying a strong perception of value.”

Technomic's recent study of the Family Dining segment encompassed both original consumer and trade research. Select findings include:

  • Family dining patronage is relatively high, with 73 percent of consumers saying that they visit at least once a month, and 38 percent do so once a week or more.
  • The Family Dining segment is highly concentrated and reachable by suppliers, with the top 25 chains representing over 40 percent of all segment sales.
  • Reflecting a strong family-friendly ambiance, more than two-thirds of consumers (68 percent) say they would be likely or extremely likely to visit a Family Dining restaurant when dining with children.
  • Even in a slow economy, appetizer sales at Family Dining restaurants have done relatively well, outpacing salads, desserts, beverages and soups, and equaling more than half of sandwich sales.
  • Most consumers (52 percent) report the availability of healthy food at family-style restaurants is very important.
  • The vast majority of revenues for Family Dining comes from on-premise dining. Takeout and catering represent very small shares of sales.

Technomic's research was designed to help restaurant operators and suppliers examine current industry dynamics and strategic directions for family-style restaurants; understand consumer needs and expectations that contribute to the ideal family dining experience; and identify foods and beverages that will build incremental sales and increase profits.

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