The upside for convenience-store foodservice is great, the opportunities broad and the momentum rising. So where should you strike next?
We’ve identified five areas that can help you build your foodservice business today. Some are slight—little more than a homework assignment. Others are notable new business platforms. But all are data-driven strategies that speak to consumer demands and competitive threats.
1. Keep selling those snacks
Eighty-five percent of snacks are purchased from retail locations vs. restaurants, according to Technomic’s Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report. Of those snacks purchased at retail by consumers ages 18 to 34, 40% are prepared-food items and 60% are packaged items. So while the majority of snacks fall into the CPG world, foodservice snacks play a notable role, especially among millennials.
Snack attributes that are striking a chord with consumers include ethnic items (consider bao, pierogies [pictured above] and Japanese or Italian rice balls), better-for-you fare and sampler or build-your-own snack bundles.
2. Bring MTO to the roller grill
More than half of consumers (54%) are interested in hot dogs as a made-to-order (MTO) option in convenience stores, with millennials and matures overindexing (59% and 61%, respectively), according to Technomic data. Made to order could include product cooked in a variety of ways, including on a roller grill, with staff adding fresh, premium toppings selected by the customer.
3. Crack the catering code
Forty-two percent of all operators in the 2016 FARE State of Foodservice survey said that catering has high potential as a business builder, and data from Technomic’s 2015 Catering Insights Group Quantitative Report shows segment sales are likewise on the rise.
The key to catering success will be differentiation: Hand-held menu items such as sandwiches are at the top of the menu in terms of items most often ordered, so consider other creative and innovative items to help you stand out from the pack.
4. Know your breakfast biz
One-third of consumers increased their away-from-home breakfast purchases last year, according to Technomic’s December 2015 Consumer Survey. The No. 1 reason for the jump is our increasingly busy lifestyles.
Daylong access to Egg McMuffins and hash browns has meanwhile helped McDonald’s gain new customers and boost check averages. Test it out yourself by expanding your breakfast offering into the lunch day-part and see if consumers bite. Also consider combo meals featuring a.m. foods and beverages, such as a coffee and breakfast sandwiches.
5. Study the QSR-Plus brands
Fast casual concepts are no longer the only darlings of the restaurant industry. A number of chains that straddle the line between traditional quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and fast-casual players are drawing attention—and creating a new segment.
Coined QSR-Plus, these chains focus on a higher-quality menu offering than most traditional QSRs. They aren’t new names, but rather established brands that already track strongly with consumers.
In-N-Out Burger is the No. 1 burger concept among Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics program, and No. 3 among all QSRs. Culver’s is the No. 2 burger chain and No. 4 QSR, and Chick-fil-A is the top brand among all restaurant concepts, and No. 1 for brand loyalty.