Year End Industry News

With us all but ready to tie the bow on another year, I thought I would scour the Internet looking for interesting articles to get the expert’s take on 2012 and what they expect in 2013.  In fairness, it didn’t take too long to find four articles that I found compelling and definitely worth the read.  If you have read any of my blogs by now then you already know they are very opinion based (what a blog is in its essence).  Anyways, we all form our opinions in a variety of ways and I challenge you to read these articles and take a stance on what the “experts” are projecting.  Do you agree? Disagree? Do you have something to add?  Let us know!

What to expect in the quick-service segment in 2013

Everyone and their cousin has a prediction about what trends will shape the restaurant industry in 2013. We are no different.

Without much ado then, here is’s prognostication for the New Year (in no logical order):

1- Hispanic and millennial marketing messaging will make seismic gains in brands’ budgets. This will include bilingual campaigns, websites, mobile apps, etc., and a greater focus on millennial-friendly programming such as Funny or Die, Comedy Central and MTV.

2- Mobile technologies will continue to accelerate at a wild pace, with QR codes, augmented reality, robust apps and gaming components requiring more marketing dollars. Also, the mobile payments industry is expected to account for $670 billion worth of global transactions by 2015, and the fast-paced QSR segment is well positioned to capitalize. In 2012, brands such as Tim Hortons, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, KFC and Taco Bell began implementing the platform, while others such as Burger King and Subway rolled out tests. Expect this to take off across the segment, including at smaller chains.

3- Competition will be even more intense than it was in 2012, when brands such as Wendy’s, Burger King and Arby’s made notable turnaround progress. Players from other segments will add even more pressure in 2013; particularly the growing fast casual segment (Panera, for example, is adding more drive-thrus), the evolving c-store segment and from casual chains adopting smaller, express models (such as Shoney’s and IHOP).

4- Digital menu boards will become the rule rather than the exception, as the technology’s cost starts to come down, and as chains prepare for the Obamacare provision that mandates the display of nutritional information.

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Top 2012 (non-menu) stories for the QSR segment

The biggest (non-food) story from the QSR segment in 2012 was the intensified competition, mostly from comprehensive rebranding efforts.

Many of these efforts have started to pay off. After struggling with sales (and messaging) in 2011, 2012 could be chalked up as a turnaround year for brands such as Burger King, Taco Bell, Krispy Kreme, Wendy’s, Arby’s and Captain D’s. Church’s Chicken and Quiznos are also undergoing leadership and branding transformations after a few rocky years.

There are many components behind these straightened ships. For example, Burger King launched its most comprehensive menu ever and is modernizing its restaurants. The brand also shifted its messaging to hit a broader demographic. Wendy’s is also focused on new restaurant designs and is doubling up on its marketing campaigns.

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3 trends that shaped fast casual in 2012

The past year has seen many changes when it comes to menu innovations and business practices in the fast casual segment. Government regulations, a commitment to healthier menus and a new focus on beverages. Each made many a headline. takes a look at how these top trends affected the industry.

Government regulations

From New York City’s ban on large sodas to the Supreme Court upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the food industry has seen a lot of government involvement this year.

The NYC Board of Health’s approval of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s proposal, which banned the sale of sweetened beverages 16 oz. or larger, captured much attention in September.

Unless the measure is blocked by a judge, the law should be in effect by March, according to the New York Times.  Although Bloomberg tweeted that the policy is “The single biggest step any gov’t has taken to curb obesity. It will help save lives,” some restaurant owners disagree. The National Restaurant Association believes the ban unfairly targets restaurants and is a misguided tactic to impact the obesity problem.

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Quick serves focus on contemporary interiors and premium menu items for a more sophisticated feel

The days of dingy, dull, and outdated fast-food joints may soon be a thing of the past. Quick serves are meeting the demands of an evolving consumer base to remain competitive with the fast-casual sphere, using everything from sleek interiors with comfortable booths and flat-screen televisions to healthy, fresh food and drink offerings.

“Consumers’ expectations are growing … and therefore their demands grow,” says Denny Lynch, senior vice president of communications at Wendy’s. “They are more mobile than they have ever been. They travel and see different parts of the country, they see different cities and restaurant chains, so they have a lot more touch points and things to consider.”

To meet this demand, Wendy’s last year introduced a $10-million-plus prototype, which it considers the future store model. The first restaurants were built to act as laboratories to perform consumer research and measure consumer attitudes toward upgrades and transformations.

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So there you have it, some pretty interesting insights into the year that was and the year that we are about to embark on.  Do you predict something other than what they mentioned?  Do you have any fresh thoughts of your own for us to consider?  We’d love to hear them.  Email us or give us a call today at 888-235-2579.