CHICAGO – Approximately twice as many affluent versus working consumers (50 versus 27 percent) use foodservice more than once a week, according to Chicago-based Technomic. Greater disposable income coupled with time pressures prompt affluent consumers to look for convenient, high-quality meal options, which are oftentimes trendy, new foodservice fare. But affluent consumers are only a small share of the total foodservice market.

Monthly patronage at fast-casual restaurants and coffee shops skew to affluent and upper-middle income groups. However, fast-food restaurant patronage is comparable among all groups. Meanwhile, upper-middle and affluent consumers are far more likely than their working and lower-middle counterparts to visit full-service restaurants once or more a month.

To appeal to economically diverse foodservice consumers, restaurants impose a varied menu, says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic.

“On one side of the menu there are products that appeal to price-sensitive customers e.g., dollar menus. Lower-priced items can retain customer patronage and possibly lead to trading up at future visits. In contrast, you’ve got items that appeal to customers who see price as a secondary factor. They may be trading down from an expensive restaurant but still want some higher-end menu options. Most of the menu, however, focuses on your core products. Now you have something for everyone.”

Findings in Technomic’s new Influence of Income Consumer Trend Report include:

• Forty-three percent of affluent consumers compared to 27 percent of working consumers prefer restaurants offering new or innovative flavors and ingredients.

• Takeout usage skews to lower-income consumers; 58 percent of affluent consumers' foodservice occasions are for dine-in, compared to 42 percent of working consumers’ foodservice occasions.

• Forty-one percent of affluent consumers versus 30 percent of working consumers say loyalty and rewards programs can encourage them to visit specific restaurants instead of others.

• Traditional health claims that relate to calorie and fat content, such as low-calorie, low trans-fat and low-fat resonate most strongly with upper-middle income consumers. Meanwhile, health-halo terms such as ‘local,’ ‘seasonal’ and ‘premium’ are most appealing to affluent consumers, most likely because they relate to the overall quality of the item — and often a higher price point.