Innovation, Quality, and Value Trends in Canadian QSR

Goals

To gain additional insight into value, innovation, and quality trends in Canadian quick serve restaurants, including McDonald's, Tim Horton's, Starbucks, A&W, Burger King, Wendy's, and Subway. This information will be used to develop 2019 highlights for the fast food industry in Canada.

Early Findings

Quick Service Restaurant Canada Growth and Trends

  • Revenue for Canadian quick service restaurants (QSR) was expected to increase by $26 billion in 2019, an annual growth rate of 3.4%.
  • Some trends in the industry include innovation (expanded menus, including products such as smoothies and salads), an increase in high-quality ingredients, and the ability to customize meals.
  • Health concerns, such as food allergies and obesity, are driving a trend toward fresh and natural food options.

Innovation

  • Starbucks launched four new cup designs in advance of the holiday season, in November 2019.
  • Starbucks also launched Cloud Macchiato in March 2019, in the US and Canada, which includes whipped milk, espresso shots, and caramel drizzle. The Cloud Macchiato is available in 2 flavors, Caramel Cloud Macchiato, and Cinnamon Cloud Macchiato.
  • Fish n Chips was available for a limited time at McDonald's Canada, starting in May 2019.
  • Tim Horton's launched an 'innovation cafe' in Toronto, in July 2019, which gave patrons options, such as handcrafted donuts, 7 different coffee brewing methods, and premium sandwiches and soups. The cafe is considered a place for the franchise to test new menu items and technologies.
  • Subway moved to paper straws in August 2019, and launched a limited-time, cheese macaroni in September 2019.

Quality

  • In August 2019, McDonald's Canada announced it was making changes to improve the quality of their burger experience for customers by making small changes in the way the burgers are cooked. Changes included better storage for their lettuce and cooking their beef patties in smaller batches to improve the temperature of the burgers for customers and elevate the taste experience.
  • Subway reinforced their healthy ingredients via a Facebook post in May 2019, showcasing its healthy ingredients in its turkey (100% Canadian, 100% delicious).
  • Subway also launched 100% grilled wraps in May 2019, which also offer a gluten-free version.

Value

  • McDonald's launched a $2 McPick's menu in January 2019, in which items such as small fries, Sausage McMuffin, Junior Chicken, and apple pies will cost Canadian consumers less than $2.00 after taxes.
  • Tim Horton's launched a rewards program in 2019, which offers customers either coffee, tea, or a baked good after 7 purchases.
  • Starbucks revised their own rewards program in 2019 which had grown by 25% from 2017-2019, to allow customers to redeem points on smaller items.

Summary of Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • We found high-level information regarding Canadian QSR trends, including innovation, quality ingredients, healthy options, and customized meals.
  • Substantial information was uncovered related to specific innovative menu items launched in 2019 among leading QSRs.
  • Some information was found for value-based launches and quality-focused communication and items as well.
  • Our research recommendations are below.

Proposed next steps:

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