What C-Stores Can Learn From Families’ Favorite Limited-Service Restaurant Chains
CHICAGO —Nearly 80% of millennials will be parents by 2026. And millennials aren’t the only parents dining out with their spouse and kids. To find out which chains are winning with families, Technomic looked at the overall visit satisfaction in 2018 among consumers who dined out with a significant other and children. The results show that winning with families isn’t menu-specific: Snack brands, polished-casual chains and everything in between made the list. Knowing that this is a big—and growing—consumer set, operators should take a look at what’s working for these brands.
A version of this story appeared previously in CSP’s sister publication Restaurant Business.
There just might be a few stealable ideas for convenience stores in the mix ...
76.9% satisfaction among families
In-N-Out has become almost legendary for its highly customizable “secret menu,” which makes it a prime spot for picky eaters who might want a simple grilled cheese on a bun or want to request a “cut in half” sandwich for wee hands. Plus, there are an assortment of playful drink and shake combos. And the brand offers a split shake, perfect for two kids to share. The Irvine, Calif.-based chain scored the highest among all families, with about 76.9% of parties with kids giving it high marks, according to Technomic Ignite consumer data.
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
74.1% satisfaction among families
What kid (or grown-up, for that matter) doesn’t like chicken fingers? Highly rated Raising Cane’s, which got top consumer scores from 74.1% of parties with kids, according to Technomic Ignite consumer data, has a branded arcade-style app for young diners to play while dipping their chicken fingers. Plus, to win over parents, the fast-growing Baton Rouge, La.-based chain's kids meals feature tips on performing “Random Acts of Caneness”—kind acts for animals, people and kids themselves.
72.9% satisfaction among families
Selling boxes of fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts has become a popular fundraising option for school groups, cementing the chain as a winner with families. In many stores, for an immersive family experience, you can watch the hot, fresh doughnuts slide down a conveyor and under their glaze shower. The brand scored high satisfaction marks from 72.9% of families, according to Technomic Ignite consumer data.
Carvel Ice Cream
71.2% satisfaction among families
A Carvel Ice Cream cake is a special-occasion tradition for many families. Consumers can even customize cakes with children’s artwork. The bright-colored scoop shops are particularly inviting for young ice cream lovers. According to Technomic Ignite consumer data, more than 71% of parties with children awarded high marks to the chain for overall satisfaction. “This is a brand that I've known since childhood,” one respondent to the Technomic consumer survey said of the Atlanta-based brand. “I enjoy taking my children, grandchildren and other family members there; it's such a unique experience.”
70.5% satisfaction among families
Latin chicken chain Pollo Campero received high satisfaction ratings from 70.5% of diners with kids, according to Technomic Ignite consumer data. In addition to kids meals, the Dallas-based restaurant offers family-sized chicken meals and a variety of sides, from mashed potatoes to yuca fries, to suit diverse appetites.
Ben & Jerry’s
70% satisfaction among families
This groovy South Burlington, Vt.-based scoop shop has been a family favorite for years, offering up sprinkle-studded cones and kid-friendly favorites such as Cotton Candy ice cream and cookie-infused flavors. Also making it a popular spot with diners of all ages is Ben & Jerry’s annual free cone day. Seventy percent of families awarded the chain high marks, according to Technomic Ignite consumer data.
69.8% satisfaction among families
“It’s food that kids love and parents want for the kids,” reads the tagline for the kids menu at Beaumont, Texas-based Jason’s Deli. Everything on the kids menu there is free from dyes, artificial trans fats and flavors, processed MSG and high fructose corn syrup. What’s more, fountain drinks are not offered in kids meals. Jason’s Deli received high consumer satisfaction ratings from 69.8% of parties with kids, according to Technomic Ignite consumer data. “It has healthy options, and my entire family can find something they enjoy,” one consumer told Technomic.
68.5% satisfaction among families
Zaxby’s is a popular destination among families looking for value along with crowd-pleasing food. The Athens, Ga.-based fried chicken chain offers a weekly 99-cent kids meal night, as well as a family-night dinner deal that feeds at least four people. The kids meal features the usual favorites, such as chicken tenders and grilled cheese, all served with crinkle fries. More than 68% of diners with kids gave Zaxby’s the highest satisfaction rating, according to Technomic Ignite consumer data.
67.9% satisfaction among families
It’s hard to beat pizza when feeding a crowd, and Jet’s Pizza, Sterling Heights, Mich., does it well with its rectangular Detroit-style pies (available with a variety of flavored crusts), craveable bread sticks and chicken wings. The chain scored high satisfaction ratings from 67.9% of families, according to Technomic Ignite consumer data.
67.2% satisfaction among families
Kids meals are $1.99 during select hours with the purchase of an adult entree at Fuddruckers. And every kids meal comes with a cookie and choice of fries or apple slices. Just more than 67% of parties with children awarded Houston-based Fuddruckers high satisfaction marks. “We had a large family group with children so we chose this restaurant because we knew we could move tables together for enough room and kids could be noisy without disturbing other customers,” one respondent told Technomic about their Fuddruckers experience.
Source: Technomic Ignite consumer data