CHICAGO — Sandwiches are still a staple in consumer diets, with 61% saying they eat them at least once a week, according to Technomic, Inc.’s new 2018 Sandwich Consumer Trend Report.

However, 60% of these sandwiches are prepared at home, while only 40% are purchased away from home. This offers an opportunity for restaurant operators to capture more consumer dollars with new sandwich varieties, Technomic said, but they must take into consideration the differing values of older and younger sandwich seekers.

 “While older consumers really home in on value and convenience when deciding where to order sandwiches, more 18- to 34-year-olds than older consumers consider factors such as healthfulness, special-diet accommodations and the use of sustainably sourced ingredients in their purchasing decisions,” said Anne Mills, senior manager of consumer insights at Technomic. “Even if brands are executing in terms of convenience and affordability, they still need to go the extra mile to appeal to younger consumers.”

Values are not the only differences to be mindful of in sandwich development and marketing, BLT sandwichTechnomic said. Brands must also consider what type of restaurants older and younger consumers prefer.

Sixty-six per cent of consumers age 35 or older purchase sandwiches from quick-service restaurants (Q.S.R.s) at least once every 90 days, and 39% do so at fast casual restaurants. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 49% order sandwiches from Q.S.R.s at least once every 90 days, and 47% grab theirs from fast casual restaurants. Altogether, 42% of consumers purchase a sandwich away from home weekly, and 76% do so monthly.

Regardless of age group, creativity may be the key to attracting more consumers to sandwich offerings, Technomic said. Thirty-nine per cent of consumers overall and 54% of millennials said they want restaurants to offer more sandwiches with new or unique flavors. Incorporating plant-based proteins may add to that appeal, as 20% of all consumers and 30% of millennials say they’d like more restaurants to offer sandwiches featuring plant-based proteins.

Sandwich trends infographic