The Evolution of Fast Food in a Customer-Driven Era: Innovation and Sustainability for Customer Needs

The Evolution of Fast Food in a Customer-Driven Era: Innovation and Sustainability for Customer Needs

Alessandro Bonadonna (University of Turin, Italy), Chiara Giachino (University of Turin, Italy), Francesca Pucciarelli (ESCP Europe, Turin Campus, Italy) and Bernardo Bertoldi (University of Turin, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1419-1.ch013


Customers are important for every company and their changes in taste, behavior, and way to decide strongly influence companies' strategy. The food sector follows the new trends and tries to adapt its way to do business, leveraging on innovation and sustainability. In the food sector, an innovation can be linked to tradition. There is a limited change in the offer and fast food restaurants' innovating is key to survive. Thus, authors analyzed how both International Hamburger Foodservices (IHF) such as McDonalds and Burger King, and Local Hamburger Foodservice (LHF), such as M**Bun and Burgheria, are changing their strategies to meet customers' needs. Authors focused on the Piedmont area, in particular the Turin area, which has a long culinary tradition, hostings of important food events, and an increasing trend of new fast food restaurants.
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The European food sector has changed in the last decades due to different factors, such as: policy makers decisions, globalizations, and last but not least changes in customers decision making and choices. In particular, in the past twenty years the policies focus was about to safeguard the food traditions, the territory and the food origin through the use of certification labelling schemes (Dias and Mendes, 2018; Bonadonna et al., 2017; Grunert and Aachmann, 2016; Hajdukiewicz, 2014) and, this trend influenced the actual scenario. Private companies, in the meantime, had to reinterpret the meaning of the term globalization and adapt their products and processes to the new competition’ rules. In fact, changes in the society and in consumers led many food companies to adapt their vision from a global perspective (implying a standardized approach to the different geographical segments) into a local one. A lot of international companies, to remain competitive in the market, redefined their strategies and operational schemes adapting them to local specificities and expectations e.g. in the quick restaurant service, it takes place in terms of local raw materials and short supply chain (Mathur, 2017; Kashif et al., 2015; Rarick et al., 2012).

The place and/or the local can be considered an adjustment tools for the international food operators that must follow the changes of the consumer’s behaviour and attitude on the assessment of food stuffs and the new models of consumption (Annunziata et al., 2019; Carzedda et al., 2018; Conti et al., 2018; Bedin et al., 2018; Vanhonacker et al., 2010). However, the place remain a fundamental element to create Alternative Food Network (AFN) that is a tool promoting the safeguard of the environment and the biodiversity, improving the quality of foodstuffs and outcomes of local operators, protecting consumers and increasing the confidence in the food sector (Timpanaro et al., 2018; Brinkley, 2018).

The new rules and requests of the market led companies and operators to rethink their strategies taking into account not only products and processes, but also innovation and sustainability.

Innovation usually is associated with the ability to transform a good idea in a material or immaterial thing with social and/or economic convenience and able to reach the target market (Intzell and Hilton, 1999). Innovation can involve production process such as specific operations or new plants and devices, product e.g. novel foods, or service e.g. delivery at home (Antonelli, 2004) and, it could be also associated with the technologic aspect e.g. increasing the shelf life of food with modified atmosphere, or as sociological e.g. back to the tradition. In any case, the strategic role of innovation is widely recognized to meet targets and reach the goals (Finco et al., 2018; Vrontis et al., 2016; Bresciani et al., 2013). In the food sector, a particular kind of innovation is remaining linked to tradition and change just some aspects of the offer (Klaus and Aachmann, 2015; Giacosa et al, 2014; Bertoldi et al., 2011; DeSoucey, 2010; Guerrero et al., 2009) with the objective to increase the value of specific foods and foodstuffs (Marcoz et al., 2016; Bonadonna et al., 2016; Rodrigo et al., 2015; Dogan and Gokovali, 2012; Schamel, 2007; Jordana, 2000). Indeed, innovation could be defined like a promotional tool whereas consumers tend to maintain their food habits (Boccia and Covino, 2016; Arcese et al., 2015; Dadura and Lee, 2011).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Food Sustainability: It is considered an important element in term of social and environmental targets. In this case, the targets can be reached by local ingredients and short supply chain.

LHF: The production and offer of burgers by local realities that have emerged over the last decade i.e. M** Bun and Burgheria.

Production Process: The transformation of a range of inputs into those outputs that are required by the market. In this chapter, the comparison of different process is an essential element.

Make to Order (MTO): It is a manufacturing process in which production starts only after a customer's order is received.

IHF: The production and offer of burgers by conventional chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King.

Food Innovation: It is considered an important element to achieve strategic objectives and meet the needs of consumers, who tends to change their tastes periodically. In this case, innovation in production system and selection of local ingredients are important elements.

Fast-Food: A particular kind of quick restaurant service in Italy i.e. initially only the operators as McDonald’s, Burger King, currently also with local operators as M** Bun and Burgheria.

Lead Time: It is the total time required to manufacture an item from customer’s order to product delivery. In this case, it is an essential element to compare the selected quick restaurant operators.

Make to Stock (MTS): It is a manufacturing process in which production is oriented to stock based on forecast demand. This model allows to a very quick reply.

Assemble to Order (ATO): It is a manufacturing process in which the basic parts of the product are already manufactured and are assembled after the customers’ order. This model allows to a quick reply and a medium level of customization of products.

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