Chicago-based Technomic identified five themes that will define consumer foodservice behavior this year.

A comprehensive analysis of evolving consumer lifestyles paired with exclusive industry, menu, operator and consumer data signals that 2017 will see an accelerated fragmentation of consumer attitudes and purchase drivers.  

"Overarching trends related to increased demand for high-quality, better-for-you fare and unique yet convenient foodservice experiences will not subside," says Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights. "However, the way that consumers define these important elements and their willingness and ability to pay more for them increasingly varies from one consumer to the next. This year, it will be especially important for operators to understand niche consumer groups and meet expectations at a range of value tiers."

Highlights include:

  • Patronage polarization. Instability has reached new levels due to increasing uncertainty. Though lower- and middle-class consumers will curb foodservice spending until instability subsides, expect few cutbacks among affluent consumers.
  • Creating community. Concepts will increasingly be positioned as places for people and communities to connect, give back, recuperate and foster diversity and inclusivity.
  • Old World revival. Today's consumers crave new foods and experiences, but seek the comfort that familiar options provide. Look for more modern, unique twists on classic fare.
  • Food beyond fuel. Healthy intentions are starting to drive heathier orders, even away from home. Operators will increasingly tout a balanced approach as the "best medicine" to support an overall healthy lifestyle.
  • Robotic takeout tech. More operators will provide technology such as delivery drones and robots, chatbots and enhanced online ordering to drive off-premise sales.