Pei Wei, the fast-casual Asian-inspired restaurant, conducted a national survey examining Americans’ sushi eating attitudes and behaviors. The survey was conducted by Kelton between Feb. 25 and March 4, among 1,012 participants ages 18 and over, using e-mail invitation and an online survey.
The survey found nearly one-third of Americans have not tried sushi, but that three in five were open to trying the dish. The findings indicate that the dish is best tried for the first time with a gradual approach.
“While shifting demographics are gradually influencing palates in the U.S., many Americans remain inexperienced when it comes to eating sushi,” said Pei Wei CEO Ralph Bower. “Pei Wei is rallying sushi lovers to help disarm the intimidated and make sushi an approachable and crave-worthy meal option.”
Survey Finding Highlights:
- More than three in five (62 percent) who haven’t tried sushi are willing to try it and 43 percent of these folks would start eating sushi if they were able to take baby steps, such as by not eating raw fish right away.
- Ninety-four percent of those willing to try sushi would steer clear of raw fish.
- Sushi newbies felt more comfortable starting with non-raw rolls, and then branched out and tried others. In fact, nearly one-quarter (22 percent) took baby steps when they first sampled rolls and nearly one-third (30 percent) had someone help them order.
- Over half (51 percent) say it was better than expected, and now close to two in five (39 percent) enjoy the dish at least a few times per month.
Differences vary by demographics.
- More women than men (36 percent vs. 27 percent) and more non-parents than parents (37 percent vs. 20 percent) have never tried this dish.
- Those in the Midwest are more likely than those in regions closer to oceans to have never tried sushi. Those who have tried sushi include: 80 percent in the West, 55 percent in the Midwest, 69 percent in the Northeast and 67 percent in the South.
- The likelihood to have tried sushi decreases as age increases: 84 percent of 18-34-year-olds have tried sushi, while only 50 percent of seniors (age 65+) have tried it.
The survey was conducted as Pei Wei introduces its new sushi Crunch Rolls, now available for a limited time. Available in Teriyaki and Wasabi, fresh and bold Crunch Rolls are topped with tempura flakes for added crunch.
- Teriyaki Crunch Roll: This roll packs flavor and crunch together with Premium Pacific krab, sweet mango and tempura flakes, all drizzled with sweet teriyaki and wasabi aioli.
- Wasabi Crunch Roll: A crunchy take on the fan favorite Spicy Tuna Roll. Filled with crisp cucumbers, scallions, rice and sesame seeds, this roll is drizzled with sweet teriyaki sauce and wasabi aioli.
Crunch Rolls join the existing sushi menu, which includes a Mango California Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll. Customers can add four rolls to any entrée salad or wok-fresh entrée for $3.29 or order eight rolls for $5.99 as an entrée or starter.
Guests can enter Pei Wei’s sweepstakes by posting a photos of themselves or a friend eating sushi for the first time with the hashtag #NewToSushiSweeps or #PeiWeiSweeps on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. By sharing their sushi experience, Pei Wei fans will automatically be entered for the chance to win a $25 Pei Wei gift card. Four winners will be randomly selected each week through May 6.
Pei Wei currently operates in 192 restaurants in 25 states.