Consumers regularly eat lunch away from home—a couple of days a week, on average. Operators have been focusing their efforts on gaining a larger share of lunch visits during this highly competitive daypart.
Convenience and speed of service are key need states for lunch. However, today's consumers are also calling for higher-quality fare (80 percent, up from 70 percent in 2011) and unique and innovative lunch items. Additionally, the availability of healthy items and smaller portion sizes continue to factor into today's purchasing decision—especially during weekday lunch visits.
"There are definitely opportunities to take share in the lunch daypart," said Sara Monnette, Sr. Director, Consumer Insights & Innovation at Technomic. "Promotion of premium limited-time items, staggered portion sizes and better-for-you menu specialties could help capture customer attention and drive midday traffic."
To help foodservice executives understand the latest behaviors, preferences and attitudes of consumers' lunch occasions, Technomic has published an update of its Lunch Consumer Trend Report. Interesting findings include:
• Consumers demand lunch variety, yet visit a few familiar lunch spots: 60 percent of consumers say that menu variety influences their lunch purchase, yet 47 percent frequent the same lunchtime destinations regularly
• Diners want appropriately sized lunch portions: three out of 10 consumers (29 percent) expect restaurants to offer smaller lunch portions, and 36 percent (up from 31 percent in 2011) eat a lighter lunch during the week
• Healthy fare is a strong influencer: consumers say that health factors impact where they purchase lunch during the week (49 percent) and on the weekend (41 percent)
• Sandwiches are a key platform for lunch-menu innovation: top trends this year call for pork-based preparations with a regional flair and trendy Asian-fusion varieties
Technomic's Lunch Consumer Trend Report provides comprehensive research on the latest menu and consumer trends for lunch, organized into five sections:
Menu Insights—utilizes Technomic's exclusive MenuMonitor data to reveal menu-development trends for lunch at Top 500 restaurant chains.
Consumer Insights—analyzes consumer preferences and attitudes toward lunch, based on findings from a nationally representative survey of 1,500 U.S. consumers.
Competitive Insights—examines consumer perceptions of attributes important to the lunch occasion, including convenient location, speed of visit, food taste and quality, affordability, takeout capabilities and more at leading chains, based on Technomic's Consumer Brand Metrics (CBM) program.
Outlook: Trends to Watch—explores emerging menu, concept and consumer trends that are poised to impact how restaurant operators promote lunch in the future.