Restaurant Industry Trends: Looking Beyond 2023
The fast casual restaurant industry has been experiencing significant growth and innovation in recent years, with no signs of slowing down. With consumers increasingly seeking convenience, healthier options, and unique dining experiences, staying ahead of the trends is essential for success in this competitive sector.
Check out the restaurant industry trends that will define the coming year and beyond. Read about market changes, customer expectations, unique trends for fast casual, and more.
Restaurant Industry Statistics
According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2023 State of the Restaurant Industry Report conducted earlier this year, industry revenue was projected to reach $997 billion for the year, up from $883 billion in 2022.
A study conducted by Deloitte in March 2023 found that 55% of customers said that the amount of in-person dining they did was the same as or higher than before the pandemic. And 69% reported they got takeout or delivery at the same rate or more frequently than they did a few years ago. Clearly, the appetite for restaurants hasn’t gone away.
Many people are paying more attention to how the food they consume affects their health and the health of the environment around them. We’re not talking diet fads, but more focus on ethically sourced proteins, organic and pesticide-free ingredients, and restaurants that pay their employees equitably and contribute to their communities.
In the same vein, it’s no surprise that more and more restaurants are making the switch to eco-friendly packaging and utensils. By aiming to use packaging from recycled, renewable, or other sustainable materials, businesses can reduce their carbon footprint. Things like biodegradable takeout containers and paper straws are a small change for such a big impact.
Sustainability is not just a buzzword or a restaurant industry trend; it’s a core concern for consumers in the fast casual sector. Predicting sustainable trends involves monitoring consumer attitudes towards eco-friendly practices, such as using locally sourced ingredients, reducing plastic waste, and implementing energy-efficient operations. Restaurants that can anticipate and adapt to these trends are likely to gain a competitive edge.
Consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious but don’t want to sacrifice flavor or variety. Fast casual restaurants that offer nutritious and customizable menu options are likely to thrive. Predicting the direction of health-conscious trends involves staying informed about dietary preferences, monitoring food allergies, and exploring innovative ways to incorporate superfoods and plant-based options into menus.
According to Polaris Market Research data, the worldwide sales of plant-based products are expected to grow from about $12 billion in 2019 to over $30 billion in 2026. More and more consumers are becoming vegan, pescatarian, or vegetarian, and restaurant owners would do well to take note and be inclusive of these types of diners, if they haven’t already.
Cultural Fusion and Global Flavors
Flavor tourism — the ability to experience global cuisines and ingredients without leaving home — is on the rise, perhaps due to the proliferation of third-party delivery services that popped up during the pandemic and allowed customers to travel the world through their taste buds. Chinese, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese cuisines have always topped American diners’ lists; Caribbean, South Asian, and South American are also growing in popularity, according to Grubhub.
Fast casual dining has become a platform for culinary exploration where customers can enjoy diverse and global flavors. Predicting trends in this aspect involves tracking the popularity of ethnic cuisines, understanding regional food trends, and experimenting with fusion concepts. Staying ahead requires a willingness to introduce new and exciting flavors that resonate with customers.
Quick, Easy, and Rewarding
Two major restaurant industry trends that emerged during the pandemic are still priorities for diners: ultimate convenience, which was reflected in delivery and takeout growth; and the importance of frictionless digital engagement.
In terms of convenience, this may include curbside pickup, takeout and delivery options. These convenient services are supported by mobile apps that offer easy ordering, loyalty programs, and even personal profiles to allow the restaurant to track customers’ preferences over time. Teriyaki Madness’s mobile app helps customers access made-to-order menu options in the palm of their hand for easy pickup (and delivery in most markets). The app also incentivizes customers to accumulate points that they can redeem for free meals at any Teriyaki Madness location.
The Social Influence
More than just a long-standing restaurant industry trend, technology has become an integral part of the fast casual dining experience. From mobile ordering and delivery apps to self-service kiosks and contactless payment options, technology is transforming the way customers interact with fast casual restaurants. To keep up, you’ll need to build and maintain a thriving online presence. It can make a difference for your bottom line — 94% of customers read restaurant reviews before visiting, according to Zippia.com, and Grubhub reports 45% of diners have tried a restaurant because they saw it on social media.
And speaking of social media, Gen Z is a young, vibrant generation known as digital natives for having been born after the dawn of the internet and fully embracing all it can do, particularly when it comes to harnessing the power of social media. Self-proclaimed influencers, foodies, and ethnically diverse, Gen Z’s food trends can dictate and drive business for new restaurants and even reinvigorate interest in establishments that have been around for years.
Stay Ahead of Trends with Teriyaki Madness
Teriyaki Madness has been positively disrupting the fast casual restaurant industry and setting trends since the brand burst onto the dining scene in 2003. With a franchise program as robust as their Seattle-style Japanese rice and noodle bowls, Teriyaki Madness presents a delicious opportunity for bold entrepreneurs across North America.
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