MegaTrends: Quick Service Restaurants Must Be Quick To Survive

MegaTrends shed light on how different industries are collaborating together to shape a new future society.  Read MegaTrends to gain a glimpse as to what products or services will become standards in the near future. The next food service Megatrends’ have been initiated in the dining-out food sectors with quick service restaurant (QSR) market as early adopters.


Food Industry Megatrends



Tablet & eTable Ordering Devices


Connected Devices/Free WiFi


Single Eaters/Family Eating


Sustainability/Local Sourcing


Dining-out is a $358 billion industry, according to a 2015 Bank of America study on Thematic Investing, with Millennials holding the greatest power over future trends.  However, forces driving sales lower have caused instability in the industry.  These forces include the changing trends toward digital, mobile experiences, healthier food options, food sourcing transparency, and changing demographic profiles. QSRs have had to make sharp changes in their models to meet the changing customer demands in the modern age.

Bank of America reported that QSRs alone, typically fast food companies, are a $138 billion market. A decade ago, companies were gaining in market share as people have traded down in a challenging economy. However, since 2009, this effect was counteracted by unemployment pressures resulting in negative growth. They have since begun to recover as a result of changing their business model to meet new customer needs.


1.Tablet & eTable Ordering

Tablet ordering has revolutionized the ‘order here’ lines.   Restaurants like Panera Bread and Tin Drum allow customers to order from a tablet and by-pass the line for the register. This concept allows for a more streamlined experience and enhanced customization options.

Other concepts include ordering from a tablet at the table, often called eTable.  London-based Inamo and US-based Applebee’s have introduced this concept to enhance the dining experience.  Tablets feature the entire menu and games to make dining more fun.


2. Connected Devices/Free WIFI

According to JIWIRE, WIFI availability is 61% more important when choosing a QSR while traveling than while at home.  63% of surveyors reported that their mobile device is important in helping decide where to eat while at home versus 83% while traveling.  These statistics are driving forces for Free-WIFI business models among QSRs and Fast Casual restaurants.

The United States saw a 5.9% increase in free WiFi locations.  South Korea, however, still has the most public WiFi locations even with minimal expansion.


3. Single Eaters

McKinsey & Company reported that the changing demographics worldwide have shown the increasing numbers of single persons or persons delaying marriage.  According to Economist Edward Yardeni, more than half of Americans are single, which is an increase from 37% in 1976.  These statistics have had a direct impact on the restaurant floor plan, which dominates with two, four and six person tables tops. QSRs have increased the number of single seats so that this demographic can dine with feeling uncomfortable.

Conagra also reported other trends including nontraditional eating for families including shareable plates that are driven by fixed costs, labor pressures, leaner staffing and more technology. Other nontraditional meal options involve the children’s menu.  Restaurants are aiming for Generation Z by providing more gourmet-style menus adapted from adult menus, healthier meal options along with meeting their demands for high tech service, louder music and kinetic visuals.


4.Sustainability/Local Sourcing

According to Conagra, locally sourced meat, seafood, beers and produce were one of the top trends of 2015.  The Center for Responsible Travel reported in a 2015 survey of professional chefs in the US revealed that 77% of chefs consider environmental sustainability as a “hot trend,” 75% mentioned natural ingredients/minimally processed food as a “hot trend,” and 72% mentioned hyper-local sourcing as a leading trend.


These MegaTrends will soon be the standard and not the exception with other restaurant categories following suit in order to remain competitive.