According to Restaurant DemandTracker, a recent survey of restaurant customers in the United States, many consumers are visiting fast-casual restuarants more often and they are doing it for a wide variety of reasons, not just for low prices.
This is in contrast to the reasons driving traffic growth at other less-expensive restaurant segments.
Among those visiting fast-casual restaurants more often, the most common reasons given are because they're less expensive (37 percent) and offer better value (31 percent), but also because they are seen as "more convenient" than other restaurants (33 percent).
Many people visiting fast-casual restaurants more often also cite their better-tasting food (30 percent), greater variety of menu options (27 percent), healthier food (26 percent), and better atmosphere (24 percent).
In contrast, the top reasons cited among those visiting quick-service restaurants more often are mostly price-driven: less expensive (62 percent), more convenient (51 percent), better value (34 percent), and better promotions (34 percent).
The people who visit pizza-takeout restaurants more often cite mostly price-related reasons, as well: more convenient (42 percent), better promotions (39 percent), less expensive (38 percent), and better value (24 percent).
"The fast-casual segment's growth is supported by a wide range of factors," says David Decker, president of Consumer Edge Insight. "While the restaurants in this segment do provide reasonable prices and good value, they also provide convenience, a wide variety of great-tasting food, healthier food, and a nice atmosphere.
"This is a great value proposition when many consumers are looking for something better than a quick-service restaurant, but their spending money is limited and they many not have the time or the money to go to a table-service restaurant," he adds. "This suggest the fast-casual segment is likely to continue to gain popularity among restaurant consumers."