Nation’s Restaurant News recently quoted NPD data on fast casual leading the unit growth in the restaurant industry (+5% in fall of 2015 vs. an overall industry unit decline). Clearly, there’s a lot of demand for higher-quality food without the table service or time commitment.
A February 2016 Mintel report
s helps us break down what that demand looks like for Hispanic consumers. First off, it looks strong and varied. Hispanic spending at fast casual restaurants grew by 41% from 2010-2015 to $38.1B. They visit an average of 6.3 fast casual restaurants in a given month, and the biggest segment driving the visits is the 18-to-34-year-olds. Mintel also reports that Hispanics tend to over-index all U.S. consumers across all subcategories – including Pizza, Mexican, Burger, Chicken, Asian and more.
Second, fast casual mirrors what Univision’s research has shown about Hispanics at quick service and casual dining restaurants: Taste trumps all when it comes to reasons to visit. Taste, quality and freshness – all product-related attributes – are cited as the top three visit drivers in the Mintel report. The growing importance of fresh food in restaurant decision-making is also something we uncovered during our QSR research last year. Sixty-five percent of Hispanics said they “look for healthier food alternatives for their children and family,” while less than half of non-Hispanics said the same thing.
Finally, according to Mintel, the power of word of mouth rings true in the fast casual category, too. Recommendations from family or friends is the number one way Hispanics learn about fast casual restaurants. Given the power of the millennial segment in this category, restaurant marketers may want to focus their efforts on building relationships with this group and encouraging them to share. Univision’s research comparing Hispanic millennials to non-Hispanic millennials reveals the nuances – like respect for elders and pragmatism – that may just unlock the keys to those connections.