The Changing Face of Fast Food – Analyzing Consumer Insights on Eating Experience, Food and Sustainability

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In the last years, quick service restaurants have started to shed their image of serving “junk” food by adopting technology to streamline their process. Influenced by the low footfall in their outlets, due in part to the pandemic, fast food brands have opted for digitalization to stay in touch with their consumer base. The long-term changes in consumer behavior are pressuring fast food brands to be more environmentally and socially responsible and bring forth innovation.  Digitalization and automation are key considerations in the long-term strategy of making the QSRs more effective and sustainable. Consumers’ diets have also changed, therefore catering to dietary needs by providing healthier menu items will develop further in the future.

The changing face of the fast-food outlook report outlines the key consumer and innovation trends currently impacting the global QSR and fast-food channel. It addresses how the pandemic changed consumers’ perceptions and behavior and how these gave way to a global evolution from ‘junk food’ restaurants to health and environmental-conscious brands. The analysis also extends to case studies and sustainability trends, as well as a future-focused insight that indicates prospective growth drivers for the sector.

Fast-Food Industry Dynamics

A large proportion of the global fast-food consumers remain concerned about dining out as a result of the pandemic. Younger generations, that is the millennials and Gen Z, are leading this trend. The Middle East and Africa region has the largest proportion of consumers who share this concern, followed by Asia and Australasia, while Europe shows a relatively smaller proportion. Moreover, the top five countries being extremely concerned about eating out at restaurants due to COVID-19 are all Asian countries, with Vietnam leading the trend.

Influenced by consumers’ concerns and in a bid to streamline their operations to handle the new demand for takeaway or collection, fast food restaurants have transformed their premises by launching innovative concepts and have developed outlets purposefully designed for picking up orders or takeaway. Dark kitchens hope to seize on the increased demand by offering lower costs for foodservice operators looking to benefit from the market.

Take-Out Industry Dynamics

During lockdowns, digitalization, from social media to AI-enabled drive-thrus, helped QSR brands safeguard their profits and bring forth innovation faster than before the pandemic, all with the help of online deliveries.

Plant-based menu items are proving successful for QSR brands. However, companies need to innovate to avoid the market becoming stale. Furthermore, global consumers claim that they are more loyal to brands that support “green”/environmental matters. To maintain and gain additional loyal customers, QSR brands need to be transparent about their policies and further develop products and codes that not only benefit the business but also aid its consumers in tackling environmental issues.

Key Dietary Requirements of Fast-Food Consumers

Fast food consumers are mainly flexitarian, pescetarian, vegan, and vegetarian. They might have a high meat diet, a low meat diet, or do not have any dietary requirements at all.

Global consumers are more likely to be limiting their meat intake than excluding it altogether. Generations Y, X, and Z are the most engaged with low/no-meat diets and older generations are more likely to have no dietary requirements. Middle Eastern and African consumers are the most engaged with low/no-meat diets, driven by the concentration of flexitarian consumers.

Fast-Food Consumers, by Dietary Requirements

Fast-Food Consumers, by Dietary Requirements

For more dietary requirements insights, download a free report sample

Key Players in the Changing Fast-Food Industry

Some of the key players in the changing fast-food industry are Taco Bell, Panera, Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Wendy’s, and Chick-fill-A.

Fast-Food Industry Report Overview

Key Dietary Requirements Flexitarian, Pescetarian, Vegan, Vegetarian, High Meat Diet, Low Meat Diet, and No Dietary Requirements
Key Players Taco Bell, Panera, Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, Chipotle, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Wendy’s, and Chick-fill-A

Reasons to Buy

  • Identify the reasons underpinning consumers’ inclination to frequent QSRs and fast-food restaurants
  • Gain insight into the key consumer trends that are most likely to drive innovation
  • Put innovative products into context by connecting them to specific consumer trends and preferences

Taco Bell
Burger King
Taco Bell
Neat Burger

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


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