Fast/Casual Customer Profile

According to Scarborough Research, which measures consumer shopping patterns and media habits, the largest segment of fast-casual consumers are married Caucasians ranging in age from 35 to 54 and have no kids, a group commonly called DINKs (dual income, no kids). This segment wants quick, healthful food and a restaurant that is a good place to meet with other DINKs.

Fast-casual consumers are educated, health conscious and are really big fans of the outdoors. These consumers are overwhelmingly white – 90% – and are split down the middle in terms of gender, and 38% own a home worth $100,000 to $199,000.

Core customers live in a three-to-five-mile radius and the lunch crowd necessitates adjacent offices or work places. “[Fast-casual] is eating into breakfast and lunch sales at full-service restaurants, and it’s going to pull some sales from basic fast-food establishments.” (Bill Hulkower, Mintel International market analyst).

The growth in fast casual will rely increasingly on Millennials – those born between 1977 and 1995 – of which there are 80 million in the U.S. alone. This makes their generation larger than the Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) and three times the size of Generation x (1965 – 1976). They make up roughly 25% of the U.S. population.

The restaurant mix preferred by Millennials is significantly different than that of older generations. Their attraction to fast casual and their lack of interest in the casual dining format is so pronounced that it is expected that these attitudes will not change as they grow older.