Guide to conducting a feasibility analysis of a noodle restaurant

Noodles

About

My friends in the business cluster (about 250 of them!) are currently charged with investigating and researching the potential success of a fusion noodle restaurant in Parkersburg, West Virginia.  The restaurant would “offer traditional Asian influenced noodle dishes (Singapore Noodles, Pad Thai, Lo Mein, Vietnamese Crunchy Noodles,  Indonesian Fried Noodles, Pho), traditional Italian pasta dishes (Spaghetti Bolognese, Pasta Primavera, Penne Rosa, Linguine Carbonara, Fettuccini Alfredo, Ravioli), and comfort dishes like Macaroni & Cheese, all made with high quality ingredients.   Many of the dishes are vegetarian, while others come with meat items such as chicken or beef satay, shrimp,  meatballs or Italian sausage.  They also serve fresh salads, sides like garlic bread, and non-alcoholic beverages.” (exceprt from project charge)

The purpose of this guide is to point business researchers to some key resources when researching the feasibility of the new restaurant, and offer appropriate search tips to find the best information available for this project.  While this guide is focused on this specific market, the techniques and tools discussed below may also be used to investigate other product categories.

Image  courtesy of avlyxz Creative Commons from Flickr

Chad’s research advice:

Because most databases will not cover the noodle market specifically, you will need to be creative when looking for related, relevant information.  As an example, many databases will cover market research about Asian and Italian foods, fast casual dining, dining by location, ethnic foods, and more.  All of these reports would be useful in your analysis.  In other words, you have to use the information that is available to you.

Industry and Market Overview

The resources in this section will give you a broad overview of the noodle, ethnic food, fast food, and dining market. Please note that in most cases, you will need to consult multiple reports in the same database to fully cover your research, as it is very unlikely you will find one report that covers all of the various product categories in the market.

Passport GMID

Use Passport GMID and to browse for “Consumer Foodservice” under the industry tab.  You can then choose “Foodservice by Type” or “By Location” and then browse to Fast Food, etc.  It’s also a good idea to do a keyword search for “Noodles in the U.S.”  This will retrieve a report on prepackaged noodles, but it still might be useful in understanding the market.   This video shows you how to find market research reports for the restaurant market in Passport GMID.  You can also perform similar searches for other items on your menu, such at alcoholic drinks, wine, and beer.

Mintel Oxygen

When using Mintel Oxygen for this topic, you’ll likely find what you need by browsing to the “Food” or “Food Services” section of the database.  There you will find multiple market research reports on the topic, including Fast Casual Dining, Asian Food, Ethnic Food, and more.    A search for “noodles”, “Asian,” “Italian,” also yields reports that will be useful.  You can also perform similar searches for other items on your menu, such at alcoholic drinks, wine, and beer.

IbisWorld

IbisWorld has a report for “Fast Food in the U.S.” which could be useful in understanding the overall fast food market.  Other reports on restaurants and dining could also be useful as well.

First Research

First Research has reports on Fast Food & Quick Service Restaurants, Casual Restaurants, and Specialty Eateries that are useful.

Business Source Complete

Business Source Complete has a wealth of information about noodles, restaurants, and more.  To avoid being overwhelmed with search results, limit the search to Trade Publications and by year (I suggest only using articles from within the last 6 years).

Bizminer

Bizminer contains industry financial ratios, failure and startup rates, and competitive market analysis for specific industries.  Use Bizminer to locate these reports for the restaurant industry in Parkersburg.  This video shows you how to find information on the restaurant industry in Bizminer.

LexisNexis

You can use LexisNexis to create a list of companies, by industry, in a particular area.  This is especially useful when attempting to identify a list of competitors.  This video shows you how to create a competitor list of companies in the restaurant industry in a specific location.

Demographic Information

The resources in this section provide detailed information about who eats Asian, Italian, ethnic foods, or who dines out.

West Virginia Demographics

The Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) is a really good resource for understanding the demographic and economic characteristics of West Virginia.  Other states may have similar resources.  While the Profiles will not tell you anything about noodle consumption, you can use the information you find there in combination with the market research reports from Mintel, GMID, etc.

American Factfinder

American Factfinder can be used to get detailed population statistics for a particular market.  As with BBER, use the information here to understand how national noodle, food, and restaurant trends (demographics of consumers, etc) apply to your local level.  For a quick list of Census statistics for Parkersburg, take a look at the Parkersburg Quick Facts.

MRI Mediamark Reporter

Mediamark Reporter provides excellent demographic statistics on consumer products. This video shows you how to use Medimark Reporter to find information about frequent diners of specific restaurants.

SimplyMap

SimplyMap can help you understand how many people in a particular area purchase or use a particular product or engage in a particular activity.  In this case, you can use SimplyMap to show how many people in the Parkersburg are dine out, what frequency, and at which restaurants.  It can be a bit of a complicate search, but this video shows you how.