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Does the family dining segment market to minorities in a significant way, and if so, how?
It does not appear that family/midscale is going out of its way to market to minorities. Menus and advertisements appear general enough for a wide base of consumers.
What is the family segment doing to embrace social media?
Simply put, they’ve been using it. Twitter and Facebook are becoming regular components, it appears, of the family/midscale marketing plan. These promotions are being used to market restaurants’ menus, new items and just build brand awareness, especially among the 18-24 year old group.
Have restaurants in the family segment cut their prices?
Over the past three years, prices have gone up by about 9%, though that growth has slowed dramatically over the past year to about 3%. Even if core menu items are going up in price these increases are offset by discounting for seniors and kids as well as other menu-price promotions designed to target increased consumer traffic.
Has the family segment incorporated any of the fast-casual features?
Some of the chains in family/midscale have actually adopted fast-casual’s format. Denny’s Café is the company’s newest concept and it is essentially the chain’s version of a fast-casual concept, operating in Orange County, Calif. Friendly’s has opened four of its Friendly’s Express concepts in Boston, and although not fast casual, Bob Evans’ Taste of the Farm concept is a self-serve kiosk designed for consumers on the go.
Has the image of family dining restaurants changed or evolved at all in the mind of the consumers?
It doesn’t appear so, but that doesn’t mean operators in this segment aren’t trying to change consumers’ opinions of the segment. From the fast-casual concepts that we’ve already touched upon, to Sizzler’s testing of food trucks and these concepts’ increased presence on college campuses, family/midscale is working hard to shed the image that it is only catering to the retired set.
What are the most popular menu items in the family segment?
The traditional breakfast foods that family/midscale is known for lead on family/midscale menus. These include the all-encompassing breakfast platter, pancakes, omelets and French toast. But increasingly those other daypart menu options like burgers, chicken fingers, chicken sandwiches and chicken are coming onto the menu at family/midscale restaurants.