Today’s working familiesâ€”many holding down two jobs or moreâ€”face a nightly dilemma: What to put on the supper table? They’re looking for healthier options, variety, affordability, and above all, convenience.
Often, consumers are not finding these needs met by restaurants. Instead, they are turning to supermarket delis and even convenience stores. Market research firm NPD Group, in their â€˜Retail Meal Solutionsâ€™ report (December 2008), said that retail stores sell almost as many ready-to-eat meals and snacks as fast food restaurants.
A key message: Consumers’ eating needs are often not being met by the restaurant industry. When this occurs, consumers will find other options. For restaurants this means that money is being left on the table.
â€˜It’s a matter of learning and understanding consumers’ needs. . . . With this learning and understanding, there is opportunity here for retailers, food manufacturers, and restaurant operators.â€™
â€”Bonnie Riggs, Restaurant Industry Analyst, The NPD Group
What Americans use restaurants for is shifting, points out NPD restaurant industry analyst Harry Balzer. Once considered places to sit and eat, restaurants are increasingly thought of as places to buy prepared food. In the words of USA Today’s Bruce Horovitz, â€˜The restaurant industry is reinventing itself with double-lane drive-thrus, curbside pickup, and takeout-only counters. The very notion of eating out is being redefined.â€™
“People used to go to restaurants to eat. Now, they go out to get food to go.â€™
â€”Harry Balzer, The NPD Group (as quoted in USA Today)
Our Take on Takeout (pdf)