If you’re like most people, you probably enjoy the occasional fast food meal. In fact, according to a recent study, about 60 percent of Americans eat fast food at least once a week.
And while there are many different fast food chains to choose from, Chipotle is one restaurant that has become increasingly popular in recent years. In fact, it’s been dubbed the “fast casual” leader by industry experts.
So what exactly makes Chipotle so special? Well, for starters, the restaurant prides itself on using fresh and organic ingredients. Plus, all of its menu items can be customized to your liking.
Whether you’re in the mood for a burrito, bowl, or salad, you can always count on Chipotle to give you a delicious and satisfying meal.
In the United States, there are approximately 200,000 quickly service restaurants that rake in about $155 billion annually. This sector is “highly competitive and fragmented… number, size and strength of competitors vary by region, market and even restaurant.” (Hoovers, 2011).
The industry is expected to grow at a rate of 3.5% in the next five years. The average fast-casual restaurant has sales of $1.9 million per year. Chipotle Mexican Grill is one player in the fast-casual industry that reported sales of $2.26 billion in 2010 with 1,230 restaurants (Technomic, 2011).
Today’s consumers are increasingly interested in fresh and healthy food options and this trend is having an impact on the fast food industry. In response to this trend, some QSRs are offering healthier menu items and some are even advertising their food as “healthy” or “fresh.”
For example, Chipotle’s menu focuses on fresh ingredients and classic cooking techniques. Their food is made with regularly inspected, hormone-free meats and antibiotic-free chicken, and they use organic beans.
Even though the industry is growing, it is still very competitive. In order to succeed in this industry, restaurant operators need to provide a good product at a reasonable price. They also need to find ways to differentiate their restaurants from the competition.
Chipotle has done this by focusing on fresh ingredients and healthy menu options. They have also been successful in marketing themselves as a “fast casual” restaurant, which is a step up from traditional fast food restaurants.
Even though the fast food industry is very competitive, there are still opportunities for new and existing players to be successful.
The key to success in this industry is to focus on offering a good product at a reasonable price, while also finding ways to differentiate your restaurant from the competition.
The QSR industry is today seeing growth due largely in part to the fact that society has less time available. According to research from the American Sociological Review, “more than 50% of US families have both parents working… multitasking allows parents to accomplish more within a limited amount of time” (Offer & Schneider, 2011).
This statement is directly reflected in the findings of the Food Marketing Institute which show that “63% of respondents indicate they are too busy to cook” (FMI, 2006). With such a dramatic increase in the number of people working outside the home and less time to prepare meals, the quick service restaurant industry has seen significant growth.
In particular, Chipotle Mexican Grill has been one of the main drivers of this growth. Founded in 1993, Chipotle was one of the first fast casual dining experiences available. Unlike traditional fast food restaurants that offer a quick but unhealthy meal, Chipotle provides a quick but healthy alternative. Their focus on fresh ingredients, responsible sourcing, and sustainable farming practices have made them a leader in the Quick Service Restaurant industry.
Despite its success, Chipotle has not been immune to the challenges faced by the QSR industry as a whole. In 2015, they experienced a series of foodborne illness outbreaks that led to a significant decrease in sales. While they have since rebounded, these outbreaks serve as a reminder of the risks faced by all restaurants.
The Quick Service Restaurant industry is growing rapidly and Chipotle is leading the charge. Their focus on fresh ingredients, responsible sourcing, and sustainable farming practices have made them a leader in the space. However, they face challenges from foodborne illness outbreaks that could impact their sales in the future.
However, with both heads of the household working part-time or full-time jobs, individuals do not have as much time to prepare meals and QSRs provide yet another method for these families to multitask and save time. In 2011, the QRS industry outperformed the overall restaurant sector by 13.5 percent in terms of stock values (Bloomberg U.S. Quick-Service Restaurant Index).
The report also showed that this was the biggest gap in the past decade between the two restaurant types.
This can be accredited to a few reasons, one being that people are returning back to work after The Great Recession and do not have time to cook meals. According to Technomic’s 2012 Consumer Trend Report, 43 percent of consumers say they don’t have enough time to cook dinner every night and 59 percent say they don’t have time to eat breakfast every morning (Fast Casual, 2012). This suggests that QSRs that serve breakfast and dinner items will continue to prosper.
Another reason for the increase in popularity of QSRs is the change in trends among the millennial generation. They are now more open to trying new cuisines and flavors, which is good news for the fast-casual industry, who typically offers a more diverse menu than fast food chains. In addition, they are also willing to spend a little extra money on quality ingredients as long as it does not take too much time out of their busy schedules (Fast Casual, 2012).
However, there is one trend that could potentially have a negative impact on the quick service restaurant industry—the slow food movement. This is a movement that promotes fresh, locally grown ingredients and takes a stand against the processed foods served at most QSRs. While this trend has not had a significant impact on the industry yet, it could become a problem in the future as more and more people become aware of the slow food movement and begin to demand healthier options at QSRs.