What you need to know

It is estimated that in 2014, Black consumers will have spent nearly $44 billion on dining out – up more than 5% from 2013. While dining out is one of Black consumers’ favorite pastimes, many eat out as opposed to cooking at home because it saves valuable time and is convenient. There are also some who have weighed the cost of buying groceries, and believe dining out can also be more cost effective, particularly since the vast majority eat at QSRs (quick-service restaurants or “fast food”), fast casual restaurants, buffets, and pizza restaurants. In fact, Black consumers are more likely than White consumers to dine at some of the leading chain restaurants.

This report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Black Consumers and Dining Out – US, May 2013, as well as the following foodservice reports:

  • Breakfast Restaurant Trends – US, January 2014

  • Dining Out – A 2014 Look Ahead – US, January 2014

  • LSR Ethnic Concepts – US, February 2014

  • Convenience Store Foodservice – US, March 2014

  • Technology in Restaurants – US, March 2014

  • Full Service Restaurants – US, April 2014

  • Innovation on the Menu: Flavor Trends – US, June 2014

  • LSR – Specialty Shops – Snacks, Beverages, and Desserts – US, June 2014

  • Dining Out: The Restaurant Decision-Making Process – US, July 2014

  • Healthy Dining Trends – US, July 2014

  • LSR: Burgers, Chicken and Seafood Concepts – US, August 2014

  • Families Dining Out – US, September 2014

  • Ethnic Trends in Restaurants – US, October 2014

  • LSR: Sandwiches, Subs and Wraps Concepts – US, October 2014

  • Pizza Restaurants – US, November 2014


This report examines Black consumers’ attitudes and behaviors toward dining out. The expenditure estimates in this report cover full-service restaurants, limited-service restaurants, and other limited-service eating places. These are defined as follows:

Full-service restaurants: establishments with waiter/waitress service, in which customers order and are served while seated; may also sell alcoholic beverages and offer carryout services.

Limited-service restaurants include the following:

  • Limited-service restaurants provide food services where customers usually select and order items and pay before dining. Food/drink may be consumed on-premise, offered as carryout, or delivered to the customer’s location. They may also sell alcoholic beverages, but exclude snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars (see below).

  • Cafeterias, buffets, and grill buffets sell food and beverages for immediate consumption using cafeteria-style or buffet serving equipment, such as steam tables, refrigerated areas, display grills, and self-service non-alcoholic beverage dispensing equipment, with patrons selecting items on display in a continuous cafeteria line or from buffet stations.

  • Snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars primarily sell a specialty snack, such as ice cream or cookies, or primarily offer non-alcoholic beverages, such as coffee or juices, for consumption on or near the premises; may carry and sell a combination of snack, non-alcoholic beverage, and other related products (eg coffee beans, mugs, coffee makers) but generally promote and sell a unique snack or non-alcoholic beverage.

Estimates of expenditures by Black consumers are derived from data in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CEX (Consumer Expenditure Survey). Shares of total expenditures accounted for Black households were estimated, and these were applied to Mintel’s estimates of total dining out expenditures.

Data sources

Sales data

  • Market Size and Forecast and Segment Performance: Based on US Census Bureau, Annual Retail Trade Survey; US Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates; National Restaurant Association “Restaurant Forecast 2014”; forecast developed by Mintel.


  • Mintel uses two categories: meals at full-service restaurants and “meals at fast food, takeout, delivery, concession stands, buffet, and cafeteria (other than employer and school cafeteria).” The latter is the closest equivalent to limited-service eating places. Mintel did not include meals at vending machines and mobile vendors.

  • Aggregate expenditures for each were estimated by multiplying average expenditures by the number of consumer units.

  • Mintel averaged three years of aggregate data to reduce the volatility that results from small sub-samples. These are “rolling averages” because the three years of data that are used shift up for each year. So 2009 is based on 2007-09, 2010 is based on 2008-10, etc.

  • The CEX data covered Black consumer units (basically equivalent to households) separately, so Mintel was able to estimate the share of total accounted for by Black consumers. Mintel applied these shares (full-service, limited-service, total) to the total sales estimates in the Dining Out: A 2015 Look Ahead – US, January 2015 report.

Note: Mintel does not have any way of estimating what share of total spending on dining out is accounted for by business, organizations, etc, versus households and individuals. The CEX data covers households and individuals only so applying shares from the CEX to totals from the Dining Out report (which are based largely on Annual Retail Trade Survey data) may result in estimates that are too high.

Consumer survey data

For the purposes of this report, Mintel commissioned exclusive consumer research through Lightspeed GMI to explore Black consumers and dining out. Mintel was responsible for the survey design, data analysis, and reporting. Fieldwork was conducted in September 2014 among a sample of 1,000 Black adults aged 18+ with access to the internet.

Mintel selects survey respondents so that they are proportionally balanced to the US Black adult population using the internet based on the key demographics of gender, age, and region. For this study, Mintel applies post-stratification weights to survey respondents so that results are proportionally balanced to the entire US Black adult population. Please note that our surveys are conducted online and in English only. Black Hispanics who are not online and/or do not speak English are not included in our survey results.

Mintel has also analyzed data from Experian Marketing Services, using the Simmons NHCS (National Hispanic Consumer Study).

The Experian Marketing Services, Simmons NHCS was carried out during April 2013-June 2014 and the results are based on the sample of 24,073 adults aged 18+ (2,139 Black adults aged 18+), with results weighted to represent the US adult population.

While race and Hispanic origin are separate demographic characteristics, Mintel often compares them to each other. Please note that the responses for race (White, Black, Asian, Native American, or other race) will overlap those that also are Hispanic, because Hispanics can be of any race.

Abbreviations and terms


The following is a list of abbreviations used in this report:

CEX Consumer Expenditure Survey
CPI Consumer Price Index
HBCU Historically Black Colleges and Universities
NHCS National Hispanic Consumer Study (Experian Simmons)
rsp Retail selling price
QSR Quick-service restaurant (also referred to in this report as fast food restaurants)


Different types of restaurants are discussed within this report, and they are defined as:

A fast food restaurant McDonald’s, Subway, KFC, Taco Bell, or independent restaurants like them
A pizza restaurant A restaurant that serves only or primarily pizza, like Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Papa John’s, or independent restaurants like them
A casual restaurant Chili’s, Applebee’s, Red Lobster, or independent restaurants like them
A family restaurant IHOP, Cracker Barrel, Denny’s, Golden Corral, or independent restaurants like them
A fast casual restaurant Panera Bread, Boston Market, Pei Wei, or independent restaurants like them
A fine dining restaurant A restaurant that creates a serious dining experience – the kind where service attempts to be impeccable, and that typically has chefs and staff coming from culinary schools, and where most entrées cost at least $20 each
Food trucks/street carts/street stalls Food trucks/street carts/street stalls

Generations are discussed within this report, and they are defined as:

World War II /Swing generation Members of the WWII generation were born in 1932 or before and are aged 83 or older in 2015. Members of the Swing Generation were born between 1933 and 1945 and are aged 70-82 in 2015.
Baby Boomers The generation born between 1946 and 1964. In 2015, Baby Boomers are between the ages of 51 and 69.
Generation X The generation born between 1965 and 1976. In 2015, Gen Xers are between the ages of 39 and 50.
Millennials* The generation born between 1977 and 1994. In 2015, Millennials are between the ages of 21 and 38.
iGeneration The generation born between 1995 and 2007. In 2015, iGens are between the ages of 8 and 20.
Emerging generation The newest generation began in 2008 as the annual number of births declined sharply with the recession. In 2015 members of this as-yet-unnamed generation are younger than 8.

* also known as Generation Y or Echo Boomers

Consumer unit (CU): The US Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey measures spending by consumer units rather than households. A consumer unit is all related members of a household, or financially independent members of a household. A household may include more than one consumer unit. A consumer unit may comprise (1) all members of a household related by blood or by a legal arrangement such as marriage or adoption; (2) a financially independent individual living alone, sharing a house, as a roomer in a private home, or in living quarters of a hotel or motel; or (3) two or more individuals living together, pooling their income, and jointly making expenditure decisions. There are slightly more CUs than there are households in the US.

In order to provide an inflation-adjusted price value for markets, Mintel uses the CPI to deflate current prices. The CPI is defined as follows:

CPI The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

The CPI and its components are typically used to adjust other economic series for price changes and to translate these series into inflation-free dollars. Examples of series adjusted by the CPI include retail sales, hourly and weekly earnings, and components of the national income and product accounts. In addition, and in Mintel reports, the CPI is used as a deflator of the value of the consumer’s dollar to find its purchasing power. The purchasing power of the consumer’s dollar measures the change in the value to the consumer of goods and services that a dollar will buy at different dates.

The CPI is generally the best measure for adjusting payments to consumers when the intent is to allow consumers to purchase, at today’s prices, a market basket of goods and services equivalent to one that they could purchase in an earlier period. It is also the best measure to use to translate retail sales into real or inflation-free dollars.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics definition.

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