Consumer Lifestyle and Behavior Case Study

Consumer Lifestyle and Behavior

Eating Healthy Fast Food

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Given the New Year it is likely that many people have made resolutions to eat healthier. However eating healthy can be very difficult for many consumers. Not everyone has the time to dedicate to their diet and nutrition. Eating healthy often requires that consumers spend a significant amount of time shopping, comparing products, and preparing their own food. Many consumers simply do not have the time or the motivation to dedicate to their diet. Therefore these consumers must rely on restaurants and fast food vendors to prepare their food. This paper will look at a sample of healthier items that are offered by various fast food vendors and look at how consumers might perceive these products. There is a socio-cultural trend towards eating healthier that many organizations have picked up on and have adjusted their menus accordingly. However, many of these products are merely positioned as a healthy product while their nutritional value is still lacking.

Industry Trends

The restaurant industry is experience sustained growth and is expected to grow over three percent from fiscal year 2011 to 2012. It is also predicted that the industry will set a record high of total volume of over six hundred thirty two billion (National Restaurant Association, 2012). The market segment that is experiencing the most growth is the tableservice sales which represent the traditional restaurant model. Quickservice establishments and fast food establishments have also fueled industry growth as well as other niches such as the hospital foodservice niche and the military foodservice niche. There have also been increases in the semi-fast food retail establishments that are a newer model.

There are many external factors putting pressure on the industry in terms of quality and price. The most influential development is the rise in wholesale food costs. Wholesale food costs are the highest in about thirty years of record keeping and are predicted to rise by roughly eight percent. Some retail chains continue to thrive in this environment, such McDonald’s and Starbucks, however others like Sbarro and Marie Callender’s have filed for bankruptcy (Bite Club, 2011). The primary trend in the industry has been and continues to be consumers desire to eat substantially healthier foods due to rising obesity rates and socio-cultural pressures.

McDonald’s Healthier Food Lineup

McDonald’s has adapted to the industry trend in which consumers are demanding healthier foods. McDonald’s now boast that eighty percent of their menu consists of items that have fewer than 400 calories. Furthermore they have added a variety of salads and different wraps to their menu to improve their product mix in regards to health. There is also a fruit and yogurt snack that would appeal to health conscious consumers. However, despite the menu alterations, McDonalds still has most of their classic lineup with items such as the double quarter pounder which has over forty grams of fat. Yet it is now possible for the health conscious to eat at McDonalds without sacrificing their dietary requirements.

Figure 1 – McDonald’s Favorites Under 400 (McDonald’s, N.d.)

Panera Bread

Panera Bread represents a fairly new development in the restaurant industry. A Panera’s location does not have a drive through and does not fit the traditional fast food model. However, consumers can order food through a traditional counter such as food in fast food establishments but the rest of the dining experience is self-service. Panera’s will likely appeal to the health conscious consumers more than traditional fast food establishments such as McDonalds because the quality of their foods is much higher.

Panera bakes their own breads each morning and offers a variety of fresh salads, soups, and sandwiches. The quality of foods is higher however the prices that Panera’s offers are also substantially higher than traditional fast food establishments. Furthermore they do not offer quite the convenience of fast food and consumers must go into to the restaurant to get their orders. Yet in regards to healthier foods, Panera’s is well positioned to cater to the health conscious consumers. Panera has been able to develop a new business model that is likely to be primed for substantial growth as the industry continues to evolve in the socio-cultural health direction.

Figure 2 – Panera’s Spinach Salad (Panera Bread, N.d.)

Works Cited

Bite Club, 2011. National Restaurant Chains Most Likely to Go Bankrupt in 2011. [Online]

Available at:

[Accessed 13 January 2013].

McDonald’s, N.d.. Favorites Under 400. [Online]

Available at:

[Accessed 13 January 2013].

National Restaurant Association, 2012. Trends and Forecasts. [Online]

Available at: / [Accessed 13 January 2013].

Panera Bread, N.d.. Power Up. [Online]

Available at: [Accessed 13 January 2013].

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