Consumers weighed in on the largest quick-service and casual dining chain restaurants, with mixed reviews. The new companion reports, Understanding the Casual Dining Market and Its Customers 2007 and Understanding the Quick-Service Restaurant Market at Its Customers 2007 are based on 2,400 consumer interviews conducted by Sandelman & Associates and published by Technomic.

“The reports provide a treasure trove of consumer insights, detailing customer demographics and spending at the leading chains, as well as evaluations of where these chains are performing well and where they can improve,” said Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic Information Services. “Both chains and suppliers to the industry will find opportunities to raise the bar and gain new customers.”

In across-the-board evaluations, select findings include:

* While heavy users of both quick-service and casual dining restaurants were found in numerous demographic categories, the largest group are males between the ages of 45 and 64, with household incomes of $75,000 or more.

* Regarding household income, positive-, negative-, and non-income driven relationships were found among both quick-service and casual dining chains.

* Gender biases do exist for specific quick-service and casual dining operators.

* Taste/flavor of food and restaurant cleanliness were critical attributes in restaurant selection among both quick-service and casual dining chains. Consumers also consider accuracy of filling orders and quality of ingredients critical at QSRs, whereas freshness and temperature of food and value for the money are critical at casual dining restaurants.

* It is noteworthy that several critical attributes—cleanliness, accuracy of orders, and temperature of food—are factors well within most restaurant staff’s control, representing an important opportunity for improved performance.

The two new reports detail consumer attitudes and behaviors regarding the leading chains, along with customer demographics, evaluations of chain attributes, meal items ordered, daypart trends, spending habits, and awareness of promotions. Additional insights specific to 32 casual dining and 23 quick-service chains are featured in detailed profiles. Any significant changes in consumer attitudes from the prior 2004 edition are highlighted in each chain profile, as are general consumer attitudinal changes in the segment.