New White Paper: “Are We Chain Obsessed?” - Signal Theory

Chains and non-chains can coexist in the marketplace because they bring different things to the table.

Nearly half of America’s restaurants are chains, and national grocery chains continue to expand. But how do consumers feel about that? And how do they choose between national chains and local favorites?

FoodThink’s latest white paper examines how consumers decide between national chains and local establishments in the foodservice and retail grocery sectors. A key takeaway is that consumers want different things from chains and non-chains. That means there’s room in the market for both.

  • 61% of consumers believe that most major U.S. cities now have the same “cookie cutter” selection of national restaurants.
  • Yet 49% of consumers say they’ve found themselves excited for a new national chain to come to their area. So maybe “cookie cutter” isn’t a bad thing.
  • Most consumers say they have no preference between chains and non-chain restaurants. When it comes to grocers, however, 40% of consumers say they prefer national chains.

When consumers choose national chains, they’re looking for consistency and availability. When they opt for local restaurants and grocery stores, they’re looking for authenticity and community.

So what can restaurants and grocery stores do to stay competitive? Chains can take a cue from the local guys by supporting the communities they operate in. Mom-and-pop operations can look for ways to improve the quality and convenience of their service.

Businesses of both types can attract customers by improving and perfecting the overall experience. And above all, restaurants and grocery stores should be true to who they are. It’s crucial for businesses to be authentic and transparent, because they can’t be everything to everyone.

Download the free white paper to learn more about how both chains and non-chains in the foodservice and grocery sectors can better meet consumers’ needs.

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