The American middle class traditionally powered consumer spending. But unyielding economic pressures have continued to shift purchasing power away from the middle, creating an hourglass economy, and there is very good reason to believe that this trend isn't likely to change anytime soon. Trends such as globalization and the drain on middle class jobs, will continue to place pressure on the middle class. Consequently, restaurants should be looking carefully for ways to appeal to affluent consumers at the top, and lower-income consumers at the bottom, of the hourglass as their growth drivers.
Jon Weber is a Partner in L.E.K. Consulting's Retail and Consumer Products practice, and head of the firm's U.S. Restaurant sector. He has extensive experience working across retail channels and with worldwide consumer brands, and is a key topic speaker at COEX 2013.