Food quality first when dining in, price only a moderate factor: TouchBistro report
September 14, 2022
By Bakers Journal
Toronto and New York – Research released today from TouchBistro suggests that, despite the pandemic causing a boom in takeout and delivery, diners in Canada and the U.S. still prefer the experience of dining in, especially at local restaurants.
According to the 2022 Diner Trends Report commissioned by the POS and restaurant management company, 44 per cent of diners currently dine in at least once a week or more, while 78 per cent dine in at least once a month. In contrast, less than one-third get takeout or delivery at least once a week. Nearly two-thirds choose local, independent restaurants over chains or franchises.
The quality of food tops everything when dining in, suggests the survey, in which 2,600 diners were polled by Maru Matchbox. Two-thirds (68 per cent) rank the quality of food as the most important factor when deciding where to dine, followed by location (66 per cent), customer service (64 per cent), price (62 per cent), and safety/hygiene (61 per cent). Diners rank dietary-specific menus (19 per cent), live music/DJs (11 per cent), and QR code menus (10 per cent) as the least important factors influencing their dining decisions.
“Our research shows that the pandemic hasn’t permanently changed habits among diners and that’s good news for today’s restaurateurs. While innovations have made it easier to order takeout, it’s clear that convenience hasn’t replaced the desire to dine in,” says Samir Zabaneh, chief executive officer of TouchBistro. “Restaurants need to return to the key actions they know worked before the pandemic and that their customers loved, as these go a long way in building customers for life.”
What attracts diners
The research suggests most diners choose where they want to dine based on what kind of food they want to eat. In fact, for three-quarters of millennials, gen Xers, and baby boomers, the type of food a restaurant offers is their number one deciding factor.
Whether they’re dining out at a restaurant or ordering takeout, most diners do exactly the same thing before they order: check out the restaurant’s menu online. Eighty-four per cent of restaurant goers always or often look up a restaurant menu ahead of time, and 79 per cent always or often look at a restaurant’s website.
What keeps diners away
It appears a bad reputation is much more likely to turn off diners than high prices. Though most diners are no longer concerned with pandemic-related safety protocols, health and hygiene is still very much on diners’ minds. Nearly three-quarters say a recent health inspection warning would deter them from visiting a restaurant, making it the number 1 reason customers avoid certain venues.
Distance and negative feedback were also major deterrents, with 61 per cent saying a distance greater than 48 kilometres (30
miles) would keep them away and 59 per cent saying negative feedback from a friend would be a major deterrent.
How diners engage
The report explores the popularity of loyalty programs, with 86 per cent of diners displaying interest in joining a
loyalty program if it provided them with access to discounts and coupons for free items. Another interesting finding is that half of diners say email is their preferred way to stay in touch with restaurants, although 13 per cent of gen Z diners in Canada
prefer to hear from restaurants via social media.
The report identified emerging trends, including that many customers are willing to make room in their budget for dining in. Nearly half of Canadians say that menu price increases would only somewhat impact their decision to visit a restaurant.
Another trend is the demand for online ordering. The report found 25 per cent of Canadians say they still order takeout and delivery at least once a week or more often, Convenience is still the main driver behind off-premise orders, while the biggest deterrent is high delivery fees.
The “2022 Diner Trends Report” can be downloaded for free at touchbistro.com.
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