bake - March 2018 - 23

Group, a leading global information company.  NPD
forecasts flat to sluggish traffic growth for 2018, but
the trajectory could change, according to NPD restaurant industry analyst Bonnie Riggs. Focusing on what
consumers want will help foodservice marketers better
align their strategies to maximize their relevance in
2018 and beyond, Riggs said.
In 2018, foodservice consumers will be more strapped
for time, given that the demand for convenience
is growing exponentially, similar to what we saw
in the '80s and '90s. With growth in the number
of women entering the labor force (U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics), the need for convenience will only
grow stronger, especially at dinnertime. It is not that
consumers don't want to cook; they are looking for
someone else to do the cooking for them or to make
it extremely easy for them to do so at home. As a
result, delivered meals will be a source of growth,
along with other convenient meal solutions.
Mini entrees billed as snacks are the current hot-ticket
item on many top chain restaurant menus, according
to the new reports from The J.M. Smucker Company
and Technomic. Why? Not only has snacking
consumption increased, but 27% of 18- to 34-yearolds even say they like to purchase snacks at restaurants instead of full meals. Plus, a notable 59% of
consumers say it's very important that snacks aren't
too large, which is higher than the proportion who
say it's important that snacks aren't too small (49%).
In addition, consumers will order digitally, via text
messages and mobile apps, both of which have
posted strong growth in 2017. If you're a restaurant
operator seeking to gain more visits and grow your
bottom line, you must decide which convenienceenablers are worthy of your investment. One size
does not fit all. It will be imperative to understand
your customers' wants and needs from a technology standpoint. Consumers will also expect
excellent customer service, even though the labor
pool is shrinking and shrinking fast. The foodservice
industry is known to have an extremely high turnover rate. Having an employee retention program in
place is a must going forward, and it should be one
that includes a process for recruiting, hiring, and
retaining employees. | MAR 2018 > 23

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