What you need to know

The limited service specialty snack segment is growing, as consumers continue to snack on-the-go and enjoy the variety of foods and beverages that snack shops offer. Snacking in LSRs (limited-service restaurants) can be healthful or indulgent, but customization is the key focus. Portability and convenience are important in the segment, meaning presentation and packaging also are important considerations. Consumers like the affordability snacks offer, as they are an economical way to enjoy a dining out experience, especially as many consumers still struggle to find more disposable income.


This report focuses on specialty concepts within the LSR segment. This includes singular-focused concepts within the quick service and fast casual segments including: ice cream, frozen yogurt, smoothie, juice, tea, snack, and baked good shops. The report focuses on usage, ordering method, consumption place, changes in behavior, deal motivators, drivers determining operator decision, and attitudes of consumers. This report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s LSR: Specialty Concepts – US, June 2014.

Respondents for the survey of this report were asked about their attitudes and behaviors with respect to limited service specialty snack shops, with a focus on restaurant usage, places of consumption, use of promotions and discounts, desired restaurant characteristics, and change in behaviors compared to the previous year.

For the purposes of this report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

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

  • Other limited service restaurants - includes cafeterias, buffets, and grill buffets which 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.

  • Also includes snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars, which 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 beverages, and other related products (eg, coffee beans, mugs, coffee makers) but generally promote and sell a unique snack or non-alcoholic beverage.

Respondents for the survey of this report were asked about the following types of specialty restaurants:

  • Ice cream shop (eg, Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery)

  • Frozen yogurt shop (eg, Pinkberry, Red Mango)

  • Smoothie shop (Jamba Juice, Smoothie King)

  • Baked goods shop (eg, Cinnabon, Mrs. Fields)

  • Snack shop (eg, Auntie Anne’s, Garret Popcorn)

  • Tea shop (eg, Argo Tea, Teavana).

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