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Technomic Report: What Matters Most To Consumers When Dining Out

How do consumers weigh their dining-out options?

A new report done by Technomic attempted to answer the question, scrutinizing the preferences, purchasing behavior and attitudes of over 1,500 restaurant consumers regarding late-night and dinner occasions.

The report, the Dinner and Late-Night Consumer Trend Report, found out that 40% of consumers last year have reduced their dining-out expenses, mainly because of budget constraints. This year, consumers are likely to visit restaurants based on the accessibility of restaurants’ frequent- diner programs (31% this year and 23% in 2009) and the presence of happy hour deals (24% this year and 21% in 2009).

“We deem it highly important for restaurant operators to realize the importance of value equation in the restaurant offers that they show in their menus in elegant restaurant and café menu covers,” said Darren Tristano, EVP of Technomic. “To be able to drive late night and dinner traffic, restaurants should explore new ways of underscoring value way beyond reduced prices. Operators can do this through specials and combo meals—strengthen the total value of their offerings with other costing strategies.”

Other relevant findings include:

• 71% of today’s consumers miss dinner, saying that they don’t normally get hungry because of late lunches. Operators, then, can come up with smaller portions of their food offerings or offer shareable menu entries to be able to drive traffic to their dinner day part.

• Consumers of limited service restaurants prioritize value in their dinner entrees. Limited service dinner menus should then focus on lower-priced items which are easy to package into quick, affordable meals for a whole family or for individual purchase.

• Customers of full-service restaurants look for dinner values, with inexpensive family dinner to-go and bundled meals. Full-service operators also make sure to emphasize “premium” in their entrees, being a component of the value equation. To increase check averages, FSRs are advised to focus on adult beverages, desserts and appetizers.

• In attracting customers to visit during late-night hours, late-night menu offerings presented in their menus in superior restaurant and café menu covers should have new, crave able options as enticement. Shareable samplers, smaller portions and mix-match options are suggested by the analysts so as to attract the younger millennial crowd.

The Dinner and Late-Night Consumer Trend Report also included consumers’ insights that analyzed their late-night and dinner patronage, providing scales and points of reference for today’s key restaurant trends. This, in effect, helps out restaurant operators and the others in the food service industry to effectively identify their competitive advantages and opportunities for growth.