The restaurant industry is increasingly competitive — and teens are going to determine which chains survive.
Consumers want more options, especially when it comes to fresh and healthy meals. As a result, fast-casual chains like Chipotle and Panera Bread are threatening the dominance of traditional fast-food brands and sit-down restaurants.
To understand which restaurant chains will dominate the industry in the next decade, analysts should look where teens are spending their money, as recommended by Business Insider’s Hayley Peterson.
Upper-income teens spend 22% of their money eating out, according to a recent survey by Piper Jaffray. Restaurants that win their favour can potentially gain lifelong customers.
Here are the top five restaurants among upper-income teens, according to Piper Jaffray’s survey.
The coffee chain is a long-time teen favourite, as the No. 1 pick for both upper income and average income teenagers surveyed by Piper Jaffray.
Starbucks’ impressive digital strategy has helped make it a go-to brand for millennials. Mobile sales account for about 6 million orders a month, assisted by the brand’s impressive rewards program, which has more than 12.1 million active users.
However, with the roll out of a controversial rewards program revamp, some customers are less than pleased — something that could affect the chain’s popularity with teen customers in the near future.
While it’s still the No. 2 brand, Chipotle’s popularity is on the decline, thanks to the recent E. coli outbreaks.
The chain became a teen favourite thanks to its fresh ingredients and authentic presentation — something that may have made the food poisoning scandal even more damaging for the brand’s reputation.
Chick-fil-A’s popularity with teens has increased steadily in recent years, from No. 5 in 2012, to No. 4 in 2013, to its current top three slot.
Sales have also grown at the chicken chain. Chick-fil-A says its system-wide sales topped $6 billion in 2015.
The growth is the result of some huge changes the company has made in recent years, such as downplaying religion and politics, and revamping its corporate culture. Chick-fil-A’s menu has also evolved, to include a new grilled chicken recipe, a kale salad, and absolutely no iceberg lettuce.
Panera’s popularity perfectly fits with the fast-casual, fresh food trend.
The company is making major changes to attract younger customers. About 20% of the company’s sales are ordered, produced, and paid for digitally, thanks to the chain’s focus on technology. Panera is also pushing for rapid pick-up and take-away, inspired in part by the rise of newer fast-casual chains.
McDonald’s is on the rise with teens, thanks to both its inexpensive prices and improvement of the menu and experience.
New innovations at the chain, such as all-day breakfast and the higher-quality Create Your Taste burger, have helped improve sales and boost the fast-food giant’s reputation. McDonald’s same-store sales in the US grew 5.7% in the most recent quarter, thanks in large part to the success of all-day breakfast.