How burger preferences are changing

Lizzy Freier, Technomic Menu Analysis Managing Editor

burger to go

Burgers are one of consumers’ top entrees, but consumption is down slightly from 2015, reveals Technomic’s newest Burger Consumer Trend Report. Customers’ preferences are also shifting in terms of the types of burgers and toppings they’re looking for, as well as when they want to eat the menu staple. Operators who understand these changes, four of which are outlined here, can draw diners back to the classic handheld.

The familiar is losing favor

turkey burger slider

Preference is decreasing for some familiar burger components, including beef patties, onions, cheddar and Swiss cheeses, ketchup, mustard, and sesame seed and kaiser rolls. Consumers may be looking for less-traditional elements, as items are trending up such as nonbeef burger patties—including turkey, stuffed burgers, pork and veggie—and less-conventional toppings like fried eggs and avocado spread or guacamole. 

Burgers gain in new dayparts

burger bacon eggs

Burger consumption is steady in the morning and for snacks, but falling at lunch and dinner. Some 18% of consumers (compared to 16% in 2015) eat burgers for breakfast at least once a month, and 19% eat them for a midmorning snack versus 17% two years ago. Conversely, 66% of consumers eat burgers for lunch at least once a month, dropping from 71% in 2015, while 73% eat them for dinner compared to 80% two years ago.

Toppings take priority

burger toppings

This year, as in years past, consumers rank the patty as the most important attribute of a restaurant burger. However, they are increasingly prioritizing toppings. In fact, consumers ranked quality/taste of the toppings higher than price/value for the money this year, whereas those rankings were flipped in 2015. This swap indicates that consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for premium burgers with specialty toppings.

BYO is slipping

burger toppings bar

While build-your-own burgers still appeal to the majority of consumers (54%), this is down from 2015 (60%). Guests may be looking for more signature offerings that can be customized if necessary rather than menus that rely too heavily on customization.

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