Definition and presentation of the fast food market
Fast food restaurants, also known as Quick Service Restaurants, are activities based on the sale of ready to eat food. Fast food is a terminology which has become strongly associated with speed and price in the food industry. The necessity of precooked meals, however, was not born with the rise of the fast food industry in the mid-1900s, but it dates back to ancient Rome. As a matter of fact, offerings that resemble the modern image of “fast foods” were already present back then.
Although the spirit and conceptual framework of this market has been existing for many years, the mass approach to the fast food industry is believed to have been born in the United States during the first half of the XX century – the first hamburger fast food chain called White Castle opened in 1921. Consumers found themselves immersed in chaotic lifestyles, thus the rapidly spreading need to eat out for cheap and fast. Nevertheless, the popularity of fast foods has undoubtedly blossomed all over the world. Today the industry is identified with mass production of a limited variety of products, whose preparation can be easily standardized, yet inspired to different cuisines (e.g. Asian, Italian, American).
The Italian food industry has undergone numerous transformations, in particular due to the evolving consumer preferences, habits and purchasing decisions, which have drastically influenced the value and incidence of the various segments within the food industry. Therefore, some segments, such as fast food, street food or food delivery are gaining relevance, leveraging on the busier lifestyles of Italians.
1.2 Fast food: a large portion of the foodservice industry
The rise of fast food worldwide
Although the conceptual and functional meaning of the fast food industry is still anchored to its roots, the United States, it is evident that the idea behind it has spread at a global level. According to PR Newswire, the fast food industry was valued at ...
1.3 Reaching European markets
Although the market leaders position themselves far away from where the rest of the world stands, one cannot ignore the progressive growth and popularity fast foods have reached.
The consulting firm Aaron Allen & associates estimated that the fast food industry in eight selected Western European nations (***) will grow by $**.*b from ...
1.4 Italy’s struggle between tradition and comfort
The Italian food industry has undergone numerous transformations, in particular due to evolving consumer preferences, habits and purchasing decisions. Those changes have seen the food service industry grow to approximately ** billion euros. [***]
Food service industry outlook Italy, ****, in % Source: ****
Although the biggest market share is still in the hands of the ...
2.1 Demand drivers
Tradition and cuisine have always been extremely important for Italians. According to Federazione Italiana Pubblici Esercici (***), **% of Italians knows traditional recipes and dishes passed down by moms and grandmas. However, globalization and changing consumer preferences have progressively set those pillars of the Italian culture aside. Within this evolution, fast food has ...
2.2 Changing food consumption trends
In recent years, the consumption habits of Italians have changed according to the following trends:
Healthier lifestyles Attention to ingredients & nutritional values Attention to quality Exclusivity Sustainability Growing number of vegetarians & vegans
Consumers are becoming more aware of the health benefits correlated to specific products and are increasingly choose to consume ...
2.3 Online purchasing habits
In **** approximately **% of the population recorded an online purchase. The expenditure amounted to **.* billion euros, corresponding to a **% growth in respect to ****. [***]
Indeed, more and more consumers are purchasing their food online. Below an overview of the e-commerce value of the food industry, with a progressive increase in the last years ...
2.4 Covid-19 impact
The first smaller-scale lockdowns in some Italian municipalities were established in February **** as a consequence of the Covid-** pandemic. As of March ****, the entire country was on lockdown and Italian citizens were not allowed to leave their house unless strictly necessary. Furthermore, all restaurants and bars were closed.
Analysing the researches ...
3.1 Organization and dynamics of the market
The Italian fast food market appears fragmented, with numerous small players complementing the popular international chains.
Next to iconic world-famous players, such as McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, the drastic appearance changes within the food consumption industry have been progressively leading to the birth of smaller actors.
In reality, those aforementioned ...
3.2 Different fast food formats
Although fast food is often identified with mass produced food, the methodologies behind the transformation processes of the entire supply chain vary considerably depending on the type of fast food.
However, the common aspects for those companies are standardized products, limited service, limited equippement and skilled labour, and short waiting times, ...
3.3 Different business models and distribution channels
There are two major business models used by fast foods in Italy.
*. Indirect channel: Franchising
The most popular distribution channel for fast food chains in Italy occurs through a franchising. This methodology allows:
to manage the activity autonomously to benefit from the established brand reputation to extend the business quickly
4.1 Fast Food Subsegments
There are several sub categories into which one can decompose the fast food market. The most popular variable to distinguish those fast food categories is the type of food sold, which can essentially trace back to the country of origin.
According to their geographical origin, fast foods are segmented into :
4.2 Offers targeted at a specific consumer
Fast food companies that operate in Italy are increasingly expanding and customizing their offer to meet the needs of their customers. For the majority of fast foods, the offer is focused on:
Families & young adults: Some fast food chains were originally targeted at families with young kids and young adults. For ...
4.3 Extremely low prices
The fast food market is characterized by an intense competition and a high product substitutability, which makes price a powerful weapon to start a war. The original success of the fast food business model lays in a double variable: price and speed. Those are strictly interconnected, as in order to make ...
4.4 Product offerings to meet new demand trends
Fast food companies are closely following trends to ensure that their offer is in line with current customer tastes and habits. In recent years, the offer has expanded to match the following trends:
Healthier Lifestyle: As seen in the demand section, more and more customers are choosing to lead a healthier ...
5.1 The fast food market regulation in Italy
Fast foods are part of the larger segment of food services, indeed they are subject to specific Italian norms regarding the opening of those activities.
Some common rules apply to any activity related to the supply to the general public of food and drinks. The European Regulation **/**/ ****, n. *** sets the rules ...
6.1 Market segmentation
- Burger King
- Chef Express
- Flower Burger
- Pokeria by Nima
- La Piadineria
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