Consumers are eating more burgers. Are you driving repeat visits?
What's the right burger for your customers? While research points us toward globally inspired, bolder burgers, it also tells us that many consumers still hanker for the traditional build.1 And whether they're going with familiar or adventurous burger builds, consumers are eating more of them. Indeed, Technomic's 2011 U.S. Burger Consumer Trend Report tells us that burger consumption is up dramatically since 2009: nearly half of today's consumers (48%), compared to just 38% of those polled two years ago, say they eat a burger once a week or more often. Interestingly, burger consumption at home has increased only slightly since 2009, demonstrating that foodservice is driving the overall increase in burger consumption.
Differentiating your burger menu from the competition is perhaps the greatest challenge. Offering value through premiumization is one effective tactic. According to Technomic's report, consumers are willing to pay more for a specialty burger, especially a premium burger, than they are for a standard burger, regardless of restaurant segment. "The specialty burger craze has driven growth in a way that is almost defiantly separate from pricing," says Sara Monnette, director of consumer research at Technomic.
THE MEAT—for the best burgers I choose meat from the shoulder, or chuck, area of the animal. For a juicy burger, I look for a fat content between 15 and 20%. I'm a purist, so for seasoning, I'm adding kosher salt and cracked pepper. I always cook from a cold (or even frozen) state over a clean, very hot, well-seasoned grill or broiler.
Senior Executive R&D Chef
THE VEGETABLES—The flavorless tomato has turned into a locally sourced tomato, a sun-dried tomato or fried green tomato. The white onion has transformed into grilled red onions and fried onion strings, adding textural contrast. Lettuce is now sometimes red leaf lettuce, or on a good day, arugula. We are also seeing things like fresh and pickled jalapeños, avocados, sautéed mushrooms and roasted red peppers, and my favorite—a fried egg (and yes, I know that's not a vegetable!).
Freeman Moser III
Senior Executive Chef
THE CHEESE—Cheese can really give the identity to a burger before any other vegetables, condiments or toppings are added. Add a slice of Jalapeño Jack for a Southwest identity. If you choose Brie, you're serving a burger with a French twist. Gruyère, a Swiss influence. You can build the burger from there—from the inspiration of the cheese.
Corporate Executive Chef
THE SPREAD—I think the main thing that separates a good burger from a great burger is the spread, whether it's as simple as a sweet and smoky BBQ sauce or a savory, thick steak sauce—or as complex as a 10-ingredient aïoli, it's all in the spread. Adding a signature touch is easy with quick embellishments: chipotle plus mayonnaise, steak sauce plus guacamole, BBQ sauce plus bourbon.
Corporate Executive Chef
- A.1. is a familiar and respected brand that can make an upscale burger more approachable and appealing to patrons.
- Offering burgers with A.1. drives frequency of visiting all restaurant types (more so than other sauce brands).2
- A.1. usage is up 13% on burgers3, A.1. provides a higher perceived quality when added to a burger.
- Studies show that consumers are willing to pay more for a burger that's branded A.1.4
A Burger for Every Menu
The term "bold" on menus has grown 18% in the last two years. Terms like "spicy," "wild," "tangy" and "fire" have penetration rates of up to 65.8%.5
According to Technomic, interest in themed burgers (such as Mexican or Asian burgers) is growing among women; more than a quarter of women polled in 2011 (27%) said they find themed burgers appealing, compared to just 19% of women polled in 2009.6
Beyond beef, more than a third of consumers say they would consider ordering a turkey (37%) or chicken (36%) burger at a restaurant.7
Consumers are purchasing mini-burgers more often than they were two years ago: about a quarter of consumers (24%) say they purchase mini-burgers or sliders once a month or more often, up from 16% in 2009.8
1 Technomic U.S. Burger Consumer Trend Report, 2011
2 Sandwich & Burger A&U, 2010 by Synovate
3 Mintel Menu Insights, 2009
4 Sandwich & Burger A&U, 2010 by Synovate
5 MenuTrends DIRECT Top US Chains & Independents Appetizers, Entrée, Sides & Desserts Penetration of Descriptors
6 Technomic U.S. Burger Consumer Trend Report, 2011
7 Technomic U.S. Burger Consumer Trend Report, 2011
8 Technomic U.S. Burger Consumer Trend Report, 2011