2020 Fast Casual and QSR Trends
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2020 Fast Casual and QSR Trends

2020 Fast Casual and QSR Trends

As 2020 quickly approaches, Steve Jackson, CEO and President of Hungry Howie's, and Andy Wiederhorn, CEO of Fat Brands, predict four trends for the coming year.

Steve Jackson, CEO, Hungry Howie's

1) Pre-recession jitters

Economists believe that the country is headed for an economic recession in 2020-2021. During the last recession, brands implemented a variety of tactics to adapt to the changes in consumer attitudes and behaviors. And by meeting those changing needs and fulfilling them in unique ways, several fast-food chains saw an increase in profit margins and were prepared until the market recovered. In 2008, while most pizza brands thrived during the economic downturn, sales at Hungry Howie's were flat. So our strategy was to reassess our brand positioning and focus on highlighting the company's core values. Reinventing the company can be a critical strategy for business growth. We remodeled our stores, changed advertising/marketing strategy, and invested in technology for the business to be more efficient and effective. With real-time information and live updates, teams can make quicker strategic business decisions. Since then, Hungry Howie's has grown, adding new products, new pizza flavor options, and opening 500 stores.

2) Increased LTOS

Restaurant unit growth has been increasing for years, despite lower guest traffic. One way restaurants have been able to offset this is through more LTOs. Whether it's offering an over-the-top product, dine-in-only BOGOs, or value deal, LTOs effectively create the promise of a short-lived and scarce opportunity that creates a sense of urgency among consumers. Restaurants are incorporating them into their marketing plan and finding creative means to boost sales and drive traffic. At Hungry Howie's, we've launched several LTOs, from innovative products to deal specials, for our value-conscious customers and have seen a boost in traffic and sales across our stores. Successful LTOs need unique ingredients, a novelty factor, and the right price - and although many customers are expecting it from a variety of chains nowadays, it's important not to roll out LTOs too frequently as they can also hurt both the top and bottom line.

Andy Wiederhorn, CEO, Fat Brands

3) Ghost kitchens

The concept of using an existing restaurant's kitchen to sell the food from another restaurant or brand goes by several names - ghost kitchen, cloud kitchen, virtual kitchen - just to name a few. The use of ghost kitchens means more money and opportunity for restaurant operators, without large price or labor hikes. In Fat Brands restaurants in particular, our franchisees who have ghost kitchens see an additional 10-20 percent in sales each week. The increased kitchen space, brand awareness, and sales are a no-brainer for brands looking to scale.

4) Plant-based menu Items

The proliferation of plant-based proteins in restaurants can't be ignored. 2019 brought a rapid increase of dairy-free and vegan options for consumers in restaurants, including ice cream, cheese, chicken, beef, and continued innovations for fish, lamb, and milk. These options cater to both vegetarians/vegans and flexitarians (people who eat meat but want plant-based options). As menu innovation continues to drive foot traffic into restaurants and increase sales, plant-based food options will continue to be at the forefront of restaurant trends in 2020.

Published: November 26th, 2019

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