Fast-food restaurants are the dominant players in foodservice, with 53% of consumers visiting these establishments weekly. However, fast-casual competitors are growing quickly and driving sales by emphasizing quality, uniqueness, and ambience. As these chains raise expectations for the food and service available at limited-service restaurants (LSRs), fast-food players will need to adapt to the changing demands of consumers.

"While affordability and convenience will always be important for LSRs, consumers are looking beyond these attributes when deciding where to go," explains Deanna Jordan, manager of consumer insights at Technomic. "Signature flavors, high-quality menu items and tech amenities are increasingly important as definitions of value, health and convenience evolve."

Key takeaways from the report include:

- Fewer consumers now (65%) than in 2014 (71%) say low prices are important at fast-food restaurants, as consumers may be willing to pay more for higher-quality, innovative fare

- The percentage of consumers demanding more ethnic food has increased at both fast-casual (66%, up from 59% in 2014) and fast-food (54%, up from 46% in 2014) restaurants, as consumers seek more unique flavor profiles

- A greater proportion of fast-casual (53%) than QSR (43%) visits are for dine-in; fast casuals often differentiate from QSRs through ambiance and cater to more social occasions

Compiling findings from more than 1,000 consumers, as well as Technomic's MenuMonitor and Digital Resource Library, the comprehensive 2016 Canadian Future of LSR: Fast-Food and Fast-Casual Consumer Trend Report serves as a guide for foodservice operators and suppliers to understand consumer usage and attitudes toward limited-service restaurants and to identify key areas of opportunity.