Consumers Serve Up Advice to Restaurants Looking to Increase the Frequency of Their Visits

As the coupon and discount battles continue in the foodservice industry, a new survey conducted by Radius Global Market Research shows that consumers are increasingly influenced by factors in addition to price.

“While value is still the main driver of frequency of dining out and spend per visit, there are ways to offset that and preserve the bottom line,” says Chip Lister, Managing Director of Radius. “The consumers we spoke to had clear ideas about what would make them increase the number of times they ate outside their home.”

Radius surveyed U.S. consumers via its proprietary Know More Internet Panel about their dining behavior in the first three months of 2011. Respondents had advice for foodservice marketers across all categories—from QSR to Fine Dining.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they’d be willing to dine out more often if restaurants acted on their suggestions.  Highlights include:

  1. Diners in all categories said that increased access to calorie counts and other nutritional information at restaurants would influence how often they visit. In the QSR and Fast Casual categories this health-oriented communication led all other consumer recommendations.
  2. Between-meal and late-night snacks are popular with QSR diners—more than one in five would visit more if offerings were increased.
  3. Fast Casual eaters want a wider variety of both chicken and breakfast menu items.  
  4. Almost one in four Fast Casual diners said they’d likely act on promotions delivered via social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  5. In the Casual Dining category diners say they’d come more often for unique premium burgers.
  6. Customers visiting Fine Dining establishments prove the toughest to motivate.  Nearly half of respondents indicated that their current habits could not be changed by anything other than price.

Don’t count out discounts.

While the influence of other factors is on the rise, the foodservice industry shouldn’t abandon discounts and coupons any time soon. Survey results indicate that coupons continue to be the primary way that consumers control spending when dining out. Respondents expect deals and coupons across all foodservice categories, including Fine Dining. And a vast majority of diners (86%) say they find ways to trim the bill each and every visit. That figure is up 10% since 2009.

“Our survey shows that consumers are becoming even more firmly entrenched in their value-based behavior,” adds Lister. “But it’s important for foodservice marketers to realize that there are additional ways beyond coupons to attract consumers such as menu innovation and social media promotions.”

Radius’s Know More study was conducted in March of 2011 and surveyed U.S. consumers about habits related to dining away from home. This survey was a follow-up to a similar survey conducted in 2009. Radius’s proprietary Know More panel represents more than 6.7 million households and 8 million consumers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Radius Global Market Research is one of the largest independent market research companies in the U.S. The company’s proprietary tools provide unique insights, effective processes and unmatched experience resulting in proven return on investment for leading global marketers in categories including: consumer products, financial services, pharmaceutical, communications, and traditional/new media.

The firm is No. 31 on the Honomichl listing of the top 50 U.S. market research organizations. Headquartered in New York, Radius employs more than 100 people in key markets throughout the U.S. The firm recently opened its Radius EMEA office in London.  More at: