Guide to researching consumer foodservice and restaurant business opportunities

selfie in Gran Ranchero restaurantAbout

My friends in the Ohio University Business Cluster are working to create a business concept in the foodservice or restaurant  industry, and assess the feasibility of the concept.  The guide points business researchers to some key resources when researching information about their industry, target customers, competitors,  and the local market. I have listed the databases and resources below, with recommendations on how to find the best information in the quickest fashion.

1. Find industry information to help define your concept

When you first get started, you’ll want to gather an understanding about the broader industry and market. The resources in this section provide a broad overview of the consumer foodservice and restaurant industry and market.


  • IbisWorld has a number of industry reports that fall within the scope of the business concept.
  • Search for restaurants, food delivery, etc. to find relevant reports on the U.S. sectors of the industry.

First Research

  • First Research has industry analyses that compliment the reports in IbisWorld quite nicely.
  • You can also do the same search and find the same content in Hoover’s Online
  • Use similar search terms as IbisWorld above.

Business Source Complete

  • Business Source Complete contains articles from major business journals and magazines.  To avoid being overwhelmed with search results, limit the search to Trade Publications.


  • Statista is a great place to look for a variety of statistics on restaurants, brands, and more.


  • Privco is a database of larger private companies.
  • For this project, you might use Privco to identify companies (business concepts) in your particular industry of interest.
  • Use the advanced search feature to filter companies by industry (restaurants), and by additional criteria if you wish (location, growth rate, size, number of employees, minority ownership, and more).

Business Plans Handbook

  • Business Plans Handbook contains actual business plans
  • You might want to search it to help you with ideas for your concept.
  • When you arrive at the Handbook, use the “Search the series” box to search by topic.

2. Gather a deeper understanding about your customer

After you get a good idea about the larger industry, you’ll want to research the consumers in your market. Market research reports, data, and statistics found in the resources below are an excellent place to start.


  • Passport  has market research reports on the on a variety of topics of relevance to this market.
  • Look under the Industries tab to find relevant statistics and reports for consumer foodservice.
    • Browse to Consumer Foodservice by type to get more granular reports such as delivery, fast food, cafes, street kiosks, etc.

Mintel Oxygen

  • When using Mintel Oxygen for this project, find numerous market research reports that contain a wealth of information on restaurants and dining preferences.
  • Also look in the Lifestyles category for relevant reports about marketing to specific consumer groups.

Simmons OneView*

  • Simmons OneView provides excellent demographic statistics on consumer products, brands, and services.  This is an essential resource to use to understand restaurant consumers.
  • This video demonstrates how to use Simmons Oneview to gather an understanding of customers of specific restaurant brands. The data includes household income, race, ethnicity, education level, gender, and more. Simmons is an idea resource when trying to identify your target consumer of a particular product or brand.

3. Analyze your local market to determine market size

After you research the consumer market for the industry, you will want to adapt that data down to the local level. The resources below can help you find information about your local market to combine with national consumer market trends.

Census QuickFacts

  • Census QuickFacts provides easy access to some of the most-used economic and social statistics.
  • The QuickFacts are an easier way to get to census information than American Factfinder.
  • You will want to use census data to compare how your local market demographics align with the more general national demographics of a consumer market (like what you find in MediaMark, Mintel, and Passport,above).


  • SimplyMap can help you understand how many people in your market area use a particular product or service.
  • It’s also an easy way to gather demographics about your local market.
  • For this topic, you can find what percentage,or number, of people in a particular geographic area eat at a certain type of restaurant.
  • See this guide for help citing SimplyMap.
  • This video demonstrates how to find customers of a specific restaurant brand by location. You can use this data to better understand where you could feasibly open a new (or similar) restaurant based upon consumer demand. The video also demonstrates how to find the addresses of restaurant locations within the specific market region.


4. Get to know your competitors or peers in your market/industry

You’ll want to identify who the competition is in your local market.  The resources below can help.

Mergent Intellect*


Hoover’s Online

  • You can also use Hoover’s Online to fine a list of companies and potential competitors in the local market.
  • Because Hoover’s indexes companies in a slightly different way than LexisNexis, it’s a good idea to run the same search in both databases.

5. Cite your sources

When you get ready to cite your sources, take a look at the Citing in APA article. Some business databases can be more difficult to cite than traditional resources such as books and journals. In most cases, just try to provide as much information and be as consistent as possible.

Related Topics: Business Cluster, Class Guides