Only five percent of American consumers eat three square meals a day, but they aren’t starving—they’re snacking. Restaurants worried that their high-margin meals are vulnerable to this trend should think about how to capture some of the snack market, or how to lure busy consumers back to sit-down meals.
USA Today reports how chain restaurants are adapting to all-day eating habits: McDonalds is making its new limited-time item the “Chicken McBite” rather than a sandwich, Dunkin Donuts has begun to sell its lunch sandwiches in the morning, many Applebees franchises are extending their hours to midnight, IHOP sells a to-go pancake that fits in a car cupholder, and Denny’s marries breakfast and dessert in its bacon maple sundae.
As these chains demonstrate, restaurants can grab share from conventional snack manufacturers by marketing like them. One way to do this is to embrace aggressive branding—Taco Bell, for example, now sells tacos on a Doritos shell. Another is to follow IHOP in selling take-away food like a convenience store does—the question is how to adjust your type of food to snack portions and commute-friendly packaging.
A restaurant’s correct evolution to the snacking trend requires testing changes one by one, and eliminating the risk of losses before rolling out new products nationwide. Click here to read more on how testing can help introduce new items.