International Concepts Aggressively Enter US Market

Spice giant McCormick recently released its 2013 trend watch which predicts that American menus will include even more international flavors. As was the case in the past few years, bold, exotic and global flavors dominate the line-up, including katsu (a tangy sauce from Japan), cajeta (a Mexican milk caramel) and dukkah (a Middle Eastern blend of spices). International cuisines are hot among consumers of all ages — from Millennials who crave variety to Boomers who want to relive the experience of their global travels.

Compared with other countries, US consumers spent a huge portion of their total food budgets at restaurants. Even though many consumers have taken to cooking more to save money in the midst of the struggling economy, the U.S. consumer spends almost half of their food budget on eating out. As American fast food chains are rapidly expanding their store count overseas, foreign brands are making inroads in the US. Some examples include YO! Sushi, Wegamama, Soho House, Pret A Manger, Nando’s Peri Peri, La Tasca, Pie Face and Pollo Campero, that we blogged about a few months ago. Many have a contemporary look and feel and are focused on quality, freshness, convenience, but above all else, authenticity.

In an update on Pollo Campero’s proven stateside model, the chain continues its aggressive U.S. rollouts and attributes its success to its “Latin approach to the [quick-service] chicken experience.” It is seen as a home treat for Americans from Guatemala and El Salvador and something new and different for Americans bored with southern fried chicken offered by many US fast food chains. With the help of Buxton’s analytical tools, Pollo Campero plan to open double-digit units annually.  

Despite its enormous US success, the chain does face some stiff competition. Using revenue and customer data of existing locations, Buxton and Pollo Campero continue to evaluate, fine-tune and experiment with various models leading to the testing of a new fast-casual concept at four stores in Houston.  The pilot stores feature an open kitchen layout where restaurant guests can see chicken being grilled. The restaurants also feature different items and more combinations.

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