First quarter 2016 revealed the vulnerability of the casual dining industry. The bar-and-grill segment, typically a strong player, struggled, as the 4.1-percent decline in same-store sales at Chili’s last quarter showed us. And unfortunately, the second quarter of the year, at this point, isn’t looking much better.
ThinkNow Research has taken a closer look at this sector from a Total Market perspective. We were looking for signs of potential demographic trends that could help the casual dining industry regain its footing in the increasingly competitive restaurant industry.
In our latest Omnibus Plus+, we interviewed over 1200 respondents with readable base sizes of Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, and non-Hispanic whites. This blog will focus on Asian respondents. You can download the full report for free by clicking here.
One of the first bright spots we see in the data for the casual dining sector is the fact that approximately half of Asian adults eat at a casual dining restaurant at least once a week. This is similar to Hispanics and significantly higher than African-Americans:
This is particularly promising as Asians are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. While their numbers do not compete with Hispanics in terms of total size, current immigration trends prove that Asian-Americans are a force to be reckoned with.
With this demographic, casual dining brands have an opportunity to create brand loyalty among a group that has already made eating at casual dining restaurants a part of their weekly routine.
So the question is, how can these restaurants attract and retain that business?
Let’s look at the data to answer that. When we asked respondents, "For what occasions do you go to casual dining restaurants?”, Asians were the most likely segment to patronize casual dining restaurants so that they could spend time with their family:
This bodes well for the casual dining sector because it’s, by nature, family friendly. However, there are opportunities to better cater to the Asian family dining experience.
Consider innovations on the menu, cultural cues, and special offers that are executed carefully. Asians are sensitive to being directly marketed to as learned in our Millennial Project.
Ultimately, Asian-Americans present an ideal growth opportunity for the casual dining industry. With the highest average ticket among Hispanics, African-Americans, and non-Hispanic whites at $52.00 and a high frequency of weekly visits, the data suggest that there’s an opportunity to create lasting relationships here for brands if they are sensitive to the cultural nuances.
With immigration trends on their side, Asian-American diners have the potential to help a struggling industry thrive today and into the future.
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