A new survey reveals that 44% of diners currently eat at restaurants at least once a week. / Photograph: Shutterstock
Meals-to-go surged during the pandemic, but now customers are returning to restaurants for dine-in experiences. And when they choose their dining destination, the quality of the food is a top priority.
That’s one of the findings revealed in the TouchBistro 2022 Diner Trends Report released Wednesday.
Of the 2,600 diners surveyed for the report, 68% rank food quality as the most important factor when deciding where to dine. Location, customer service and price follow close behind, at 66%, 64% and 62% respectively.
Eating at local and independent restaurants is also a priority; 63% of respondents prefer them over chains and franchises.
Restaurant decision-making is also influenced by cravings—no matter what the diner’s demographics. The research found that three-quarters of Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers choose a restaurant based on the type of food they want to eat.
But Gen Z is more likely to be swayed by social media and Instagram influencers; 39% of respondents in this group say they’ve tried a new restaurant based solely on the recommendation of an influencer. While Instagram still reigns supreme, TikTok is on the rise—21% of Gen Zers check out this platform before dining out.
Posting a tempting menu online is definitely a plus for all generations, as 84% of diners browse the menu ahead of time and 79% look at a restaurant’s website before they visit.
While inflation has jacked up menu prices, higher prices are not necessarily a turnoff. Forty-five percent of Americans say that menu price increases would only somewhat affect their decision to visit a restaurant, suggesting that diners are willing to absorb some price increases to enjoy the food they love.
A bad reputation is much more likely to drive a diner away from a restaurant. And 73% of survey respondents would be deterred by a negative health inspection rating.
Chains are more likely than independent restaurants to offer loyalty programs, but indies might benefit from this incentive, according to the report. More than three-quarters (86%) of diners showed interest in joining a loyalty program if it provided them with access to discounts and coupons for free items.
TouchBistro is a restaurant management system that integrates POS, customer engagement solutions and other operational features on one platform. The company partnered with Maru Matchbox to conduct the survey of 2,600 diners across the U.S and Canada.
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