1. Department & Category

How and Where Consumers Buy Fast Meals is Evolving


at the intersection of yesterday fast-food restaurant and playground and time
starved consumers that today’s consumers is opting for fresh food fast and
simple according to Steven Johnson
Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  The drive-thru has been a fast-food staple
for decades, but the way we get our burgers and fries has been evolving. Let’s
take a look at how consumer preferences and technology are changing the game.

Reign of the Drive-Thru

sales have been booming, with estimates suggesting they made up half to over
of fast -food sales in 2014. This dominance continued through
2019, with figures hovering around 60-70%. The pandemic further
solidified its importance, with drive-thru’s reaching over 90% of sales
at its peak in 2020, when dining rooms were closed. Even in 2022, around 75%
of fast-food sales still came through the drive-thru window.

the Drive-Thru

the drive-thru remains a convenient option, new trends are emerging:

Delivery: The
rise of food delivery apps has impacted fast food. Chains are optimizing their
delivery processes and partnering with delivery platforms to reach customers
wherever they are.

Mobile Ordering & Tech Solutions: Technology is changing the fast-food experience.
Mobile apps for ordering, self-service kiosks, and even automated drive-thru
systems are becoming more common.

Consumer Preferences

Affordability: Inflation
is a concern for many, and fast-food chains are responding with a focus on
value for budget-conscious customers.

Healthier Options: People, especially younger generations, are demanding healthier
choices. Fast food restaurants are offering more nutritious and plant-based
options to meet these needs.

Sustainability: Environmental
responsibility is gaining importance. Fast food chains are implementing
eco-friendly practices like reducing plastic waste and sourcing local

Multi-Generational Craving

does not mean different it means familiar according to Johnson. Despite these
changes, fast food chains continue to attract customers of all ages. There is
now truly a multi-generational appeal for fresh food fast. Here are a few

Taco Bell: From
late-night cravings to family meals, Taco Bell’s menu with its crunchy tacos,
burritos, and unique offerings remains a crowd-pleaser.

Sonic Drive-In: Sonic’s
retro drive-in experience with burgers, fries, and drink variety offers a dose
of nostalgia for all ages.

Dairy Queen Grill & Chill: Generations have enjoyed Dairy Queen’s soft-serve
ice cream, signature shakes, and classic meals, making it a multi-generational

Ponderosa & Bonanza Steakhouses: These iconic buffet-style steakhouses are
experiencing a comeback. Families return for the comfort food reminiscent of
their past, and the buffet caters to various age groups.

future of fast food looks like a delicious blend of convenience, technology,
and options that cater to our evolving preferences and values. Is your brand
keeping up with the evolving consumer?

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in
outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify
additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and
brand and menu integration strategy.  
Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche
visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links:
Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

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