Leaving behind the blues of the pandemic years, the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry is seeing a comeback. With a projected market size of $293.8 billion in 2023 (source : globenewswire), the industry is set to grow to $454.3 billion by 2030 in the U.S.
The growth is largely driven by QSR players adapting to the changing consumer preferences. Consumers are now widely health conscious, are seeking sanitized spaces, prefer technological solutions, consider environmental and economic costs, and above all are expecting a great QSR experience.
If you are in the QSR business, you must consider the changing consumer preferences while designing spaces for your QSR architecture.
1. Understanding Evolving Consumer Preferences
For the majority of restaurants, the QSR experience is the lifeline for business. It is the experience restaurants provide for their customers to attract them. Adopting the current trends and consumer preferences will help enhance the QSR experience.
Current Trends And Shifts In Consumer Preferences
● Re-imaging interiors - Changing interiors every three to five years is a norm in the quick service restaurant industry. And ‘Re-image project’ is a raging trend in the QSR industry. As the name suggests, it involves reimagining the entire QSR space by replacing existing fixtures, bringing digital solutions, updating software systems, and giving a refreshing look to the interiors.
● Preference for online ordering - According to a study by Gloria Food (source : gloriafood), 86% of Americans order food online at least once a month. Ever since the pandemic, consumers' preference for online ordering has seen a significant uptick and the demand is surging. Responding to the demand, QSR brands have created their websites or apps for online ordering or have partnered with third-party delivery services.
● Health consciousness - The current consumer is highly health conscious and is prudent in food choices. There is a growing preference for organic food, and consumers as such are expecting QSR to display organic ingredients on the menu.
● Sustainable practices - Consumers are conscious of climate change and its impact on the planet. Many prefer QSRs that follow sustainable practices like responsible ingredient sourcing, eco-friendly packaging, waste reduction, etc.
2. Embracing Flexible and Multifunctional Spaces
The changing dining habits of consumers require an accommodating and flexible QSR design. It should provide convenience to the customer, integrate technology, and customization options to the customer.
While designing the space, separating drive-thrus, take-outs, and dining areas will lead to hassle-free customer movement and quick service delivery. And there is an inclination among customers for QSRs with curbside pickup (source : oracle). Thus, providing space in the parking lot for curbside pickup is essential.
Further, with increasing digital orders, the QSR space must be flexible to handle and deliver orders fast. For example, Royals Hot Chicken (source : royalshotchicken) created cubbies labeled for various third-party services. When an order is received, the package is placed in the designated cubby for the delivery man to pick up.
3. Incorporating Technology and Digital Integration
Technology has become critical for fast turnover. It enables quick service delivery, accurate order taking, automatic menu adjustments, data analysis, and more. Within a QSR space, there must be avenues to incorporate tech and integrate digital solutions.
Deploying self-ordering kiosks will reduce the pressure on the cashier and eliminate errors in order-taking. Digital menu boards for drive-thru customers will help them choose food quickly. Mobile apps and websites will help with quick order placing and hassle-free payments. Also, the use of QR codes and other contactless payment solutions will increase customer satisfaction. All these must be complemented with dedicated spaces within the overall QSR architecture.
4. Utilizing Data and Analytics
Thanks to digital technologies, a quick service restaurant now has access to vast amounts of data about consumer behavior and preferences. Leveraging the data to design quick service restaurant architecture becomes that much more critical.
With the use of data analytics, big QSR brands have already dissected consumer choices and desires. Using analytics, they uncovered new pain points, carried out menu innovation, created optimized layouts, developed better inventory management systems, and improved their operational efficiency.
Data analytics thus plays a pivotal role in creating an informed QSR architecture.
5. Enhancing Sustainability and Environmental Considerations
Consumers are now highly conscious of environmental issues and are seeking out eco-friendly quick service restaurants. The design of a restaurant thus must include eco-friendly and reusable materials, energy-efficient systems, renewable energy sources, waste reduction strategies, efficient ingredient sourcing, innovative packaging solutions, and effective supply chain management. Further, designing the space while aligning with environmental certifications and green building ratings like LEED (source : usgbc) certification, National green building standard ICC 700 (source : nahb), Green Globes (source : thegbi) certification, etc., will improve customer loyalty.
6. Creating Engaging and Memorable Experiences
Digital technologies enable QSR brands to engage with customers and provide a memorable dining experience. In-app personalization, order savings, menu suggestions, loyalty programs, etc., will keep the customers engaged.
Designing QSR architecture that has the convenience of the customer at its heart will help the brand create memorable experiences for the customer. Way finder signage, clear pathways, touchless payment points, updated websites and apps, real-time menu changes, and accurate information provision, all of these go a long way in creating a memorable atmosphere and gaining loyal customers.
7. Drawing Insights from Statistical Data
Here are some statistical insights (source : oracle) into QSR industry trends and consumer preferences that should help make informed decisions while designing QSR architecture.
● 71% of consumers are concerned about the environmental impact of restaurant operations. Consumers are particularly attracted to restaurants that use biodegradable packaging and commit to low emissions.
● For 93% of consumers reducing food waste is a priority. And 87% of consumers seek transparency about a restaurant's sustainability initiatives.
● Personalization is a major customer loyalty driver. 55% of consumers are comfortable with location-based personalized offers. 45% love the idea of receiving personalized order suggestions based on previous purchase history.
● Drive-thru with the click-and-collect model is popular among consumers. About 54% of consumers in the U.S. prefer click-and-collect services.Source: Oracle.com
8. Collaborating With The Right MEP Engineers
With everything said, collaborating with the right MEP engineers is critical to creating the perfect quick service restaurant. NY Engineers are adept at designing optimal QSR spaces, taking into account all the requirements of the restaurant. We have the necessary experience and expertise to execute QSR design projects of any kind with faster turnaround times.
The quick-service restaurant industry is undergoing a transformation driven by changing consumer preferences. Be it health-conscious living or a preference for sustainable restaurant practices, QSR brands are adapting to the change by integrating technologies, bringing a refreshing QSR menu design, following sustainable practices, and more. While navigating this transformation is challenging, it is widely rewarding for QSR brands in terms of retaining customers and boosting revenues.