The Quick Serve Industry (QSR) in Australia is in a strong position, with its steady and positive growth over the past four years forecasted to continue. When looking at consumer patterns and trends over recent years, research shows us that the typical Australian consumer in 2020 is time-poor and much more likely to eat out or order take-away foods than ever before. The present-day Australian consumer is looking for healthier fast-food meals that meet their individual dietary needs, as well as being mindful of the environmental and ethical impacts caused by the consumption of these foods. In addition to these dietary shifts, the digital age has pushed ordering systems online and efficient home delivery options are essential for businesses to stay competitive and meet consumer demand. It also cannot be ignored that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a sizeable spanner in the works for the QSR industry. Businesses have been forced to adapt overnight to meet new and frequently changing hygiene requirements to stay operational.
Data tells us that the average Australian spends approximately 34% of their weekly food expenditure on ordering take-away foods or eating out, which works out at between two to three times per week. This weekly expenditure has risen from about 25% in 1988-1989, showing significant growth through recent decades. Currently, there are around 50,000 fast food outlets in Australia with a market size of an estimated $20 Billion, making the QSR industry here very well-established.
This upward trend on expenditure has been accelerated by the rise in delivery options and online ordering systems, enabling a customer to browse, order and arrange delivery of their meal within a matter of minutes directly from their phone or device – perhaps without even needing to leave the couch. A great advantage of this reliance on technology in the QSR space is the ability for us to gather and analyse data so that we can be well-informed of consumer preferences and adapt accordingly. In this digital age we must also be mindful of the huge impact of online reviews. Businesses need to be aware of the online customer experience and be ever-more responsive to digital feedback.
Recent research continues to reveal that consumers are changing their patterns towards healthier meal choices and improved wellbeing. While fast-food has traditionally equated to nutrient-poor meals with a high fat, sugar and salt content, consumers are now looking for healthy, fresh and gourmet options that are still affordable and fast. Niche diet requirements, such as vegan, low sugar and gluten-free, are on the rise and consumers are looking for menus that are adaptable to their individual preferences. Additionally, consumers are also much more open to trying a varied selection of international cuisines.
The move towards plant-based options is driven also by the ethical and environmental concerns of Australian consumers. There is a high-value placed on menu items that are cruelty-free in their production, can be locally sourced and have as little negative impact on the environment as possible. Businesses are being held accountable to their social, ethical and environmental responsibilities, especially regarding their output of waste and carbon footprint. It is therefore important for consumers to be informed of what ingredients they are eating, where they are sourced from and how they have been produced and treated.
Impacts of COVID-19
The impacts of COVID-19 on the QSR industry have been very tangible throughout 2020. Restaurants have needed to quickly adapt and respond to the changing government requirements in order to keep operating and remain competitive in the market. The demand for take-away, delivery and contactless pickup options has magnified significantly. Businesses have also needed to implement COVID-safe plans to meet new governments requirements by providing obvious hygiene measures, such as hand-sanitization stations and strict social-distancing protocols.
Mad Mex franchises have continued to thrive during this season and are well positioned to be the best option currently available in the Australian QSR Industry. The structure of our menus and the nature of Mexican cuisine allow consumers to easily customise their meal according to preference and diet requirements. Ingredients can be added, removed or adapted without sacrificing on flavour or texture. Our food philosophy is that ‘simple is good and fresh is best’ and our menu focuses on high-quality fresh and healthy foods that can be prepared fast and provide an authentic Mexican flavour experience. The Mad Mex online nutritional calculator makes it simple for consumers to work out exactly what they are eating and make informed choices about their meals.
The Mad Mex team recognise the growing support amongst consumers for sustainable and ethical living practices and the responsibility we hold to look after our environment. Our restaurants use BioPak plant-based sustainable packaging and cutlery that greatly reduce the reliance on single-use plastics so commonly associated with fast-foods. Mad Mex is also committed to keeping our restaurants COVID-safe for staff and consumers, through dedicated areas for contactless pickup and delivery, strict social distancing measures and increased sanitisation and cleaning protocols. We are confident that Mad Mex franchises stand on firm foundations as we move forward and remain an excellent competitor in the QSR industry.