Friday, April 4, 2014

Surprising Insights From Fast Food Demographics

The fast food business is an undervalued window on the soul of America, I think.  THIS article in an online industry trade magazine breaks down the demographics of fast food consumption by age, ethnicity, and income level, and draws conclusions about what this data means for the industry. Some of this surprised me. Here are a few highlights:

  •  Ethnicity. In 2050, Caucasians are projected to make up just 53% of the US population, despite making up 72.4% in 2010. Conversely, the Hispanic population is expected to rise from 16.3% in 2010 to 23% in 2050.  The Asian population is projected to rise from 4.8% in 2010 to 10% in 2050. For Caucasians, 41% of their total food expenditure annually is on food away from home.  For African-Americans that percentage is 35.9%.  For Hispanics that's 38.1% and for Asians its 48.4%. "Holman is more blunt in stating how important it is to cater to the Hispanic demographic. 'If you do not have a Hispanic initiative,' she says, 'you really need to get one. The growth that is being projected for the Hispanic population in the United States is phenomenal.'"
  •  Age.  "54 percent of 'super heavy' fast-food users (who eat fast food at least once a day) and 37 percent of 'heavy' fast-food users (two to six times per week) are between the ages of 18 and 34, according to Technomic.... [A]ccording to Census Bureau projections, Millennials will make up the majority of the U.S. population by 2030... Millennials are an in-depth group that understands healthy eating and desires more unprocessed, natural foods... Baby Boomers, meanwhile, are the largest generation in the U.S., making up 26 percent of the nation’s population at 82 million members strong... 'Because they’re aging, they really want to eat healthy, so low sodium is important to them, reduced sugar is important to them, all of that. They’re really going to be the ones to change the ways we age in America and the ways we eat as we age.'"
  • Income. "'One of the interesting things was affluent consumers definitely use foodservice more often, but it’s not just the more pricy restaurants,' Weikel says. 'Even at fast food, their rates were just about equal or just as high. So that’s one thing to keep in mind, that quick service is not just lower-income consumers.'"

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