Guide to understanding restaurant consumers , the dining market, and food service industry trends

big hamburger at a restaurant
Primary market research says that this hamburger is good!


The purpose of this guide is to point business researchers to some key resources when researching the restaurant  and consumer food service industry. While not entirely comprehensive, this guide does list several of the key and highly recommended resources when analyzing the industry.  I’ve listed the databases and resources below, with recommendations on how to find the best information in the quickest fashion.

General Industry Information

The resources in this section give an overview of the industry and the companies involved in the industry.


IbisWorld is a good place to get started for a good overview of the industry.

  •  A search for restaurants, food service, dining, fast food, etc.,  yields relevant, regularly-updated industry reports.

Hoover’s Online

Hoover’s Online has great company and industry information.

  • Use the Company tab to search for a particular company (McDonald’s, Chipotle, Darden, etc) to find company financials, competitors, company news, and more.
  • Use the Industry Tab to search for “restaurants” to find some excellent industry reports.

S&P Net Advantage

S&P NetAdvantage  is a key tool to use when researching this industry.

  • It has a very good report for the Restaurants industry.  The industry reports can be very useful in performing a PEST analysis, particularly when addressing the “economic” area.   To find these reports, click on the Industry Tab in NetAvantage, then select the industry in the drop-down menu.
  • It has stock reports and company financials for major companies.


Market Research and Consumer Information

The resources in this section dive more deeply into understanding consumer demand, preferences, and how customers shape the industry.

Passport GMID

Passport GMID offers market research reports and company reports covering the U.S. and the international markets

  • To find reports for this industry, use the Industries tab, select Consumer Foodservice under Services.
  • There are many ways to find information in Passport, though the video below shows the most effective way to research this industry.  You might also use the search box in Passport to search by company or industry.
  • The video below demonstrates how to find reports, statistics, market research, and analysis for the restaurant industry.

Mintel Oxygen

Mintel Oxygen is an excellent source for market research reports pertaining to this industry.

  • A search for “dining” or “restaurant” yields the best search results
  • It’s also a good idea to browse the Category Overview for Foodservice to find reports that you might have missed with keyword searching.
  • Mintel also has lifestyle reports for various demographic groups such as millennials, boomers, moms, dads, college students, etc.  Again, look for these demographic reports under the Category Overview link.

MediaMark Reporter

MediaMark Reporter is a key tool to use to understand the demographics of those who eat out, or those who dine at specific restaurants.

  • The video  below demonstrates how to find consumer demographic information for restaurant consumers.


The WARC, the World Advertising Research Center will be helpful in looking at restaurant advertising and marketing campaigns.

  • Search WARC by keyword
  • Hint:  I find it better to browse WARC at times. Go to Topics, and look for Retail, then Restaurants.
  • You can also browse to Topics, Consumers, then choose a demographic category, such as “Marketing to Youth”


SimplyMap can be used to analyze the local market, or potential market, for a restaurant.

  • Use the Simmons Local data in SimplyMap to find out what percentage, or number of people in a specific geographic area (city, county, zip code) eat at a particular restaurant (type or brand).
  • The video  below shows you how to analyze the local restaurant market.


 Articles and Statistics

You can use articles and statistics from these resources to help fill in any gaps in your research.

Business Source Complete

Business Source Complete has a lot of useful information that can take your research to the next level. I’ve listed here last not because it is the least important, but because I would us articles and reports from Business Source Complete to fill in the gaps of your research.  You will find Industry Profiles (search for wine or wineries, and Trade Publications that can enhance the broad coverage of other industry reports.


Statista is great resource to find some extremely useful statistics for you industry.

 Additional company & industry resources

The resources below are additional database suggestions for company and industry information.


OneSource is another fantastic resource for both company and industry information.

  • It has company news,  financials, SWOT analyses, ratio comparisons, peer analysis, stock reports and more for companies in the fast food industry.

LexisNexis Academic

LexisNexis is a great source for company or industry news, company profiles, legal cases, financials, family trees, accounting publications, law journals, and more.
  • Tip:  Your best bet is to use the “Get Company Info” box on the right side of the page to search for you company.  On the company page you will find a good deal of financials, news, and more.
  • You can find video tips on using LexisNexis here.

 Mergent Online

Mergent Online is a great tool for looking at both company and industry information.

SEC Filings

The 10-k (annual SEC filings) for individual companies contain financial information for companies, as well as textual descriptions of business strategies, risk factors, competition, and more.  Look in Part 1, Item 1 and Item 1A for this information in a company’s 10-K report.  As an example, take a look at the 10-K for McDonald’s and look at the Business and Risk Factors sections.  You will notice that McDonald’s uses some of the similar language found in reports like IBISWorld and others.  You might also look at similar 10-K’s for other companies in the industry.


Related Topics: Industry Guides