Consumer Trends

6 consumer trends shaping the future of restaurants

What will tomorrow’s guests want from a restaurant? Coca-Cola analyzed recent data and revealed six consumer developments likely to have an impact on restaurant operators—and ways to adapt to those changes. Here’s a peek.

Value plus

Value-priced menus have always drawn a certain type of consumer, but more than a third (37%) of consumers are seeking deals more than two years ago, according to Technomic’s 2017 Value & Pricing report. And millennials are especially fond of deals—46% of them are seeking out deals more often.

One way to handle that deal mentality without sacrificing margins is to offer LTOs, specialty beverages and premium products that rise above commodity status.

Evolution of healthy

Simpler ingredients, transparency and balanced choices are all on consumers’ wish lists. According to Datassential, half of consumers think it’s important to consume food and beverages made with “clean label ingredients.” Not surprisingly, more than two-thirds also support menu labeling. And Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating report finds that nearly 40% of consumers are more inclined to visit restaurants that provide healthy options—even if that’s not what they order.

Tactics for managing this balancing act include menus with multiple portion sizes, alternative proteins, nutritional information and locally sourced products.

Flexibility and discovery

Today’s restaurant patrons value mealtimes without borders, the freedom to customize and exposure to new flavors, Coke concluded. Snacking is driving demand outside traditional dayparts; according to the Hartman Group, 91% of consumers snack multiple times per day. Solutions include all-day breakfast and beverages—smoothies and coffee drinks, for instance—as snacks.

Customization is another growing trend: a 2016 report from Technomic, Trends Shaping Foodservice Through 2020, finds that 72% of consumers expect DIY options at restaurants. Build-your-own salad bars, pizzas, sandwiches and bowls satisfy that preference.

Finally, more than a third of consumers say “new and interesting” foods factor into their restaurant choices, according to Datassential. That’s a compelling reason to introduce global flavors and uniquely different LTOs.

Hyper convenience

On-the-go consumers increasingly want to dictate when, where and how they choose to order food. Mintel reports that 82% of consumers say convenience is a top concern when dining out—and a factor in the inroads c-stores and grocery operators have made into foodservice.

Restaurants that offer on-demand delivery and delivery-only concepts have capitalized on this trend as well. Delivery, while still a small portion of total foodservice sales, has been growing at a 7% rate annually for the last five years. Restaurants that can enhance the delivery and takeout experience are likely to win this battle.


Technology has transformed both operations and the guest experience. Social media should remain a high priority for operators, as 61% of consumers say they find out about new restaurants through social media channels, according to a study by Toast. Ordering technology is slowly gaining ground, but 80% of consumers told the National Restaurant Association they prefer to deal with humans. Analytics provided by mobile orders and other technologies are helping operators strategize menus and encourage repeat visits.

Brand authenticity

Consumers are looking for the real deal—authentic experiences and brands that stand for something. Among millennials, more than a third told Datassential they craved a “cool/hip” setting in a restaurant—a factor most likely behind the rise of food halls and pop-up eateries. Socially responsible practices are a priority as well, with sustainable sourcing and waste reduction at the top of the list. And nearly half of respondents in Technomic’s Foodservice Industry Overview & Forecast study cited community involvement as an important quality in a restaurant.

For more insights on trends shaping the foodservice industry, visit Coca-Cola here.

This post is sponsored by Coca-Cola

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