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Quick Service Restaurant Industry: Trends & Analysis

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  • 0:02 What are Quick Service…
  • 1:09 Analyzing Quick…
  • 2:41 Quick Service Trends
  • 4:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Quick-service restaurants face many challenges, but they also have many opportunities, with new trends in abundance. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the quick-service trends and some of the concerns in the industry.

What Are Quick Service Restaurants?

You're familiar with them. You pass them on your way to work, as you run Saturday errands and as you travel on vacation. You've probably dined at one this week, driven through one of their parking lots, and maybe even requested a quick snack through a small window cut out in the rear of their building. Called a quick service restaurant by some, you may more comfortably call it a fast-food restaurant - any number of hamburger, taco or roast beef drive-thru joints where you can grab a cheap and quick meal.

The quick service restaurant industry is projected to rake in more than $200 billion in the United States in 2016, with estimates over the next four years growing that number to more than $220 billion. That's thanks in part to the more than 200,000 establishments the country boasts. The deli sandwich shop, Subway, has the most locations nationwide, followed by McDonald's, Starbucks, and Pizza Hut.

In recent years, thanks in part to increased pressure on the industry from fast-casual restaurants and rising consumer expectations, the quick service industry has had to make quick adjustments to issues like those we'll cover in the next section.

Analyzing Quick Service Threats

Quick service or fast-food restaurants have come under enhanced scrutiny and face stiffer competition lately than in previous years. Consumers are demanding more healthful options, and fast-casual restaurants like Five Guys, Panera Bread, and Qdoba are courting customers who are willing to pay a little more for a better dining experience.

Here are a few of the more serious issues quick service restaurants are encountering:

1. The rise of fast-casual dining: Fast-casual dining is the world's fastest growing segment of food service, as consumers turn to restaurants that offer more opportunities for customized meals with fresher food options.

2. Unacceptable, unhealthful menus: Whether the result of the media putting more pressure on restaurants to offer more healthful options or the rising consumer demand for better choices, quick service restaurants are struggling with the perception of unhealthful menu offerings.

3. Poor labor conditions: Fast-food workers across the country have created some bad press for fast-food restaurants for their less-than-ideal working conditions, long hours, and low wages. Legislation in some states is working to raise the minimum wage to help address at least one of those concerns.

Threats to quick service restaurants also present opportunities and trends in the industry. Many of the restaurants in this segment are working to get a leg up on the competition and appeal more to the needs of changing consumer expectations. Let's examine a few of the trends sure to impact the industry moving forward.

Quick Service Trends

From creating more healthful food options to embracing technology, quick service restaurants have many opportunities to stay in the game.

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