CHICAGO — Many restaurants are copying strategies of fast-casual restaurant chains that have led to success during the recession, according to The NPD Group.
Other restaurant chains have taken note that the fast-casual segment has been the only segment that has continued to grow throughout the recession.
“Many fast casual concepts were positioned as a fresh, made-to-order alternative to traditional fast-food options, and consumers responded positively,” said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD. “Although some fast casual concepts faltered, consumers responded positively to the concepts that offered a new fast-food dining experience. The segment benefited from fast-food consumers trading up and full-service consumers trading down.”
Ms. Riggs said quick-service restaurants have begun offering more premium products, healthier options and upgrading interiors with a more upscale and modern look. She said fast-food operators can compete with fast-causal restaurants if they pay attention to consumers’ wants and needs, especially in terms of the freshness and quality of food offerings.
“Fast-casual concepts are in an excellent position for growth relative to the overall industry,” Ms. Riggs said. “However, the same growth opportunities are available to any restaurant operator able to innovate, prove value for money and not just keep with up but surpass competitors.”