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The Washington Post has a story about the restaurant industry, observing that the fast casual segment is growing at a rate (11.4 percent last year) that dwarfs the growth of the full-service segment (3.4 percent) and fast food business (4.4 percent).

But even more interesting is the finding by location-based marketing company xAd, which found that for the post part, the customers who patronize these restaurant segments tend to stay in their lanes, not often veering off to visit a category outside their preferences.

In other words, there is more customer overlap at BurgerKing, Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell, and at Panera, Chipotle and Shake Shack, than there is between, say, Chick-fil-A and Panera.

The exceptions seems to be Taco Bell and Chipotle, which share more customers than most of the other companies in their segments, and McDonald's, which "still dwarfs the other brands in terms of overall foot traffic, and its customers have very little overlap with other chains."

"Here’s why that is important," the story says. "Surely there are plenty of customers who have traded up from the fast-food standbys for pricier offerings from fast-casual restaurants that they perceive as healthier and fresher. But now that we’re deeper into the fast-casual boom and consumers have adjusted to this new restaurant landscape, it’s worth noting that they tend to stay exclusively in one dining lane."
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