Who are fast-casual restaurant customers?

In previous articles we have discussed both the fast-casual (also called quick casual) restaurant trend (Panera Bread, Chipotle, etc.), as well as the need for location-based entertainment facilities (LBEs) to upgrade to comparable food offerings (see additional reading at end of article). Claritas, a major market research firm, has conducted research on who the fast-casual customer is, and findings show that the fast-casual customer is the exact same customer LBEs need to attract to be successful. Here's what Claritas found:

Who's the customer?

More than any other demographic, it's the soccer moms and dads who are fueling the fast-casual dining trend. They live in suburban areas and small cities around major urban areas and are upper-class families with dual incomes, college degrees and new split-level and colonial homes.

Where they shop

Fast-casual consumers tend to be kid-obsessed, spending big bucks on computers, action figures, dolls, board games, bicycles and camping equipment. They tend to shop at upscale malls, where they favor stores like The Gap, Ann Taylor and Old Navy.

How they spend their time

Media preferences include the Cartoon Network, family videos and contemporary Christian radio. When their kids aren't in school, they try to keep them occupied by going to the beach, zoo, museum or skating rink; they never met a theme park they didn't like. And because almost everyone already seems to own a minivan for hauling the kids around, status is driving them toward flashy sports-utility vehicles (SUVs) like a Dodge Durango or Ford Expedition.

So if your LBE targets families or you are currently planning your family LBE, you should now have little doubt about where to position your food offerings to attract the ideal demographic.