Independents Make a Comeback




Pentallect Study: Consumers Show Strong Preference for Independent Restaurants Over Chains

As customer perception improves, independents are forecast to grow at almost double the rate of chains in the remainder of the decade.

In a new study by Pentallect, consumers rate independent restaurants higher on attributes such as community involvement and personalized service.

 Independent restaurants are making a huge comeback in customer perception and will outpace chains in growth in the next few years, according to a new study from Pentallect.

The research shows consumers rated independent restaurants superior to chains in 12 of 15 key attributes, representing “a noticeable shift in momentum from historical patterns.”

​Pentallect, a strategy and business-improvement firm for the food industry, collaborated with its insight partner, Critical Mix, on the study. It found that customers have a strong preference for independents when rating restaurants on certain key factors. Measured attributes in the study included “Community-Oriented,” “Is special,” “Personalized Service,” and “Shares My Values.” Independents outscored chains by 26 to 29 percentage points in those categories, while also winning on attributes such as “Food Quality” (87% to 71%) and “Good Service” (87% to 71%).

On the other hand, consumers see independents lagging behind on attributes such as “Use of Technology” (52% to 72%) and “Social Media Use” (50% to 61%), while keeping pretty much even with the chains on “Delivery Services” (59% to 58%).

“Independent restaurants are not only perceived to be doing a better job of meeting consumers’ expectations regarding the dining experience and ambiance, they are also doing better than chains in the ‘table stakes’ of food quality, service, value and menu innovation that have traditionally been a strength of many chains,” said Rob Veidenheimer, president of Pentallect, in a prepared statement. “This combined set of favorable attributes represents a significant advantage for well-managed independents, and overcoming the perceived gap represents a major challenge for chains.”

Bob Goldin, a partner at Pentallect, had more good news for independents. “Based on these fundamentals,” he said, “we project that independent restaurants will grow at 4% to 5% per year for the balance of the decade, almost double the 2% to 3% chain growth rate. This has significant implications for supply chain partners’ go-to-market strategies and resource allocations.”

The chains will fight back, of course, Pentallect predicts in a press release about the study, but “the favorable consumer perceptions driving independent restaurant growth are likely to remain and even possibly accelerate over the next several years.”

This article appears in the May 2017 issue of PMQ Pizza Magazine

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