Sandwich Signs

Consumers looking for more variety, says Technomic

Published in CSP Daily News

CHICAGO -- Diners want more variety in sandwiches, with expectations highest in those aged 18 to 24. According to a new report from foodservice industry consultant Technomic, only about half of consumers polled (52%) were satisfied with the variety of sandwiches available at sub shops and delis, while just 42% were satisfied with the sandwich offerings at full-service restaurants. Eighteen- to 24-year-olds were least satisfied, at 44% and 40% respectively.

The findings are part of the new Sandwich Consumer Trend Report from Technomic, developed to provide an in-depth look [image-nocss] at the sandwich category and help industry professionals identify opportunities in the current market.

Select findings include:
Most consumers (81%) have purchased a sandwich away from home at least once in the past 60 days. Among these consumers, 93% eat at least one sandwich a week, and 59% say they eat at least three sandwiches a week. More than three-fourths of consumers surveyed (77%) say they have eaten a hamburger in the past 60 days. Beyond burgers, 57% say they had eaten deli sandwiches and about half had eaten tacos or burritos (52%) or sub sandwiches (47%) in the same period. More than four in five consumers say quality and taste drive their selection of where to purchase a sandwich for both lunch (84%) and dinner (82%). Overall value and price round out the top three traffic drivers, with more than seven in ten consumers citing each as a reason for choosing a specific restaurant for lunch and dinner sandwich purchases. More than four out of five consumers indicate that the quality of meat (86%), freshness of ingredients (84%), and quality of bread (81%) have the most impact in making a good sandwich. The vast majority of consumers report that customization (77%) and quantity of ingredients (75%) are crucial factors to creating a good sandwich. "Due to the high versatility and saturation of the sandwich market, it is important for operators to stay abreast of current trends and evolving consumer needs," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic. "To improve in the area of variety, operators and suppliers may want to consider offering a wider range of sandwich ingredients, developing signature sandwich offerings, and allowing guests to customize their sandwiches."

Some trends, venues and brands examined in the report include:
Promoting value: Blimpie Subs & Salads' three-tier value menu. Sandwiches on the move: upscale, high-quality mobile food trucks. Ethnic sandwiches and global flavors: Cosi's Wasabi Roast Beef sandwich. Artisan preparations: use of gourmet cheeses and breads prepared on site. Portion sizes giving consumers control over pricing and sizing. The Sandwich Consumer Trend Report contains menu, consumer and competitive insights that will help industry professionals understand current and emerging menu trends and consumer consumption behavior, purchasing decisions, attitudes and preferences toward sandwiches.

The Consumer Insights section is based on an online survey of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers conducted in March 2010, and provides analysis by demographics and by heavy, moderate and light user groups. Additionally, cluster analysis identifies opportunities to tailor offerings to specific groups of consumers who behave in similar manners. Wherever relevant, comparisons are made to similar data collected in 2006 and 2008.

Menu Insights uses Technomic's MenuMonitor database to look at how leading, emerging and independent chain operators are menuing and positioning sandwiches. The Competitive Insights section examines how often consumers purchase sandwiches at 20 leading limited-service restaurants; how they rate each chain on attributes such as quality, freshness, health, service, overall dining experience and value; and how their patronage and attribute ratings have changed since 2008.

An Outlook: Trends to Watch section analyzes important menu, concept and consumer trends for the sandwich category. Appendices include detailed profiles and menus of 20 emerging or innovative sandwich chains, and demographic breakdowns of consumers of 13 different types of sandwiches.

Chicago-based Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include numerous publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry.