Bill Main on the growth of Fast Casual in 2015

"Wake up and smell the coffee," says Bill Main FCSI, millenials have arrived and they've got Fast Casual in their sights

Technomic’s recent, somewhat rosy release of its projections for 2015 underscored my strongly held belief. The millenials have finally arrived. With 80 million 18-33 year-olds, there is a veritable tidal wave of consumers with a very specific eating out agenda: Fast Casual

And, the size of the Fast Casual market will grow to accommodate them, with a shift in discretionary spending. 2015 is expected to be a strong year in the restaurant market. According to Technomic, limited service restaurants will see revenue increases of 3.5%, quick service chains by 2.3% but, with almost double the growth of these two combined, fast casual is expected to increase by 10.8%.  Do I have your attention yet?

However, although Technomic’s report may be upbeat for 2015, but the National Restaurant Association is not buying. In their October 2014 RPI (Restaurant Performance Index) operators have expressed a “dampened outlook” for 2015. The CSI (Current Situation Index) is down 0.9%, and the EI (Expectations Index) fell by 1.1%.

So what’s going on here?

It’s clear to me. Technomic is presenting the power curve of demand – millenials who love fast casual. These are newly minted consumers, a generation bigger than the baby boomers, 10,000 of whom turn 21 every day. Let me save you the math. That’s seven new adult consumers a minute.

They are proudly self described ‘foodies’, with two thirds eating out once a week or more. They reference their Smart Phones 150 times a day. Just look around in any fast casual chain; I dare you.

I suspect that the NRA numbers are reflective of a more stodgy, entrenched old school constituency, driven by the traditional limited and quick service chains. My message to them? Wake up and smell the coffee. The millenials, like a torrential flood, have arrived.

Tucker W ‘Bill Main’

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