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Recent Study Shows Lunch as Most Popular Part of Day

Recently conducted research showed that lunch continues to be the most prevalent time for customers to visit eateries, and that there are many ways that restaurants can reach out to their customers.

A “dining out” research was done by group-buying service company Living Social mid-September, and confirmed once again that consumers eat out during lunchtime more than any other time of the day.

Living social made an online survey of a total of 4,000 respondents in the U.S. and found out that on the average, American diners eat 2.6 meals at restaurants per week during lunchtime, compared to the 1.4 average sit-down dinners and the 0.8 average breakfast or brunch visits that customers do per week. The respondents are internet users who are 18 and above.

In a related survey, Technomic released their “Lunch Consumer Trend Report” and gave light on customers’ motivations, attitudes and purchasing behavior on lunch meals. The most frequent visitors of restaurants for mid-day meals are the millennials, aged 18-34. This group was also found to be the most probable buyers of value items in building their meals. Older consumers, or the baby boomers, unexpectedly, are not as much driven by value in buying their lunch, although they see it as a viable option.

“The baby boomers are as motivated by value as the millennials, but what matters more to them include quality of food and healthy options,” said Sara Monnette, director of consumer research at Technomic. “Customers who are 45 and older turned out to be the most health-conscious, and they have a different value equation than the younger consumers who consider value mainly as a monetary or price issue. The older consumers do not perceive too much value in dollar menu food offerings, because value for them has a broader context, like health.”

The report, which conducted an online survey of 1,500 consumers, also had other helpful findings, such as:

• During weekdays, consumers pay attention to fast, inexpensive and portable lunch options at restaurants; while on weekends, this preference shifts—they give more priority to customization and fresh preparation on their food than other attributes.

• Most consumers bring lunches from home during weekdays, but there are still a good 35% of the surveyed respondents who purchase their lunch from restaurants or other food service establishments at least two times a week.

• More than 50% of all those who were surveyed said that they don’t eat lunch at least once a week, and about 33% indicated that they take snacks instead of lunch at least once a week. Restaurants can most likely attract these customers by having their chefs in elegant chef whites come up with a larger selection of smaller-portioned snacks and better-for-you food offerings.

• The percentage of consumers who said that they mostly have lunch at the same familiar restaurants was at 47%, although they indicated that they prefer to have a much broader variety of food options for lunch, making dining establishments realize that customization and variety remain to be important factors to attract them.

Such report can help restaurant operators recognize the trend, realize the opportunity and have their management team, including their chefs in smart chef whites, come up with strategies that would leverage the lunch day part.