Restaurant trends in the US signal switch to share-able comfort foods

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 5th December 2012

Latest consumer research from US firm Technomic has found that share-able meals and combo meals are key consumer needs when eating at a restaurant.

The 2012 Menu Positioning and Consumer Trend report found that restaurants can improve their performance by offering share plate and shareable meal options, as over 70 per cent of Americans surveyed say that they prefer to order these over any other meal.

The survey of 1,500 consumers showed that top shareable snacks ordered in America were mozzarella sticks, nachos, chicken strips and chicken wings – backing up Technomic findings that nearly 60 per cent of consumers prefer “comfort foods” when eating out.

Technomic reported that 70 per cent of all consumers are influenced on the dish to order by images displayed in the menu. Other significant factors that influenced choice included recommendations by friends (56 per cent), daily specials (52 per cent), and price discounts (51 per cent.)

Darren Tristano, Vice President of Technomic said that consumer dining preferences strongly influenced the “reengineering of operators’ menus.”

“As operators and suppliers recognize how [dining] occasions differ, they can spot opportunities to not only reposition menu offerings, but to update and revamp service elements, in order to meet the direct needs of customers for each occasion and gain valuable foodservice dollars,” Mr Tristano said.

Mr Tristano added that restaurants that “genuinely understand” the significant drivers of consumers’ dining preferences “win incremental business.”

The full Technomic report can be accessed here.

Technomic's 2012 Menu Trends report.