Diners are acutely price-conscious now but their dining preferences may be less strongly determined by promotional or price offers than some operators appear to believe. The NPD Group’s new report, “Defining Value Today: How Consumers Choose to Eat Out,” finds that loyalty keeps many diners returning to their favorite spot no matter what.
The study finds that 42% of consumers say they go to the same place regardless of whether or not a promotional deal is offered. This isn’t the result of “brand inertia,” where diners simply would rather not change their habits. In fact, NPD finds, loyalty is a choice driven by perceived quality and an inclination to define value as more than price.
Loyalty isn’t the majority position, however. More than one-third of consumers say they look for bargains, with 26% saying they switch among restaurant choices depending on promotions and another 9% saying they simply dine wherever is cheapest. Nearly one in five respondents (19%) said they seldom eat out and the remaining 4% said none of the answers was applicable.
“Consumers choosing where to dine is subject to some of the same pricing and deal pressures as other retail categories, but there remains large segments of the population for whom ‘value’ is much more than the lowest prices,” says NPD Restaurant Industry Analyst Bonnie Riggs. “Given this, operators will want to execute different marketing campaigns to appeal to a broad base, while remaining relevant to those seeking out the lowest price and best deals.”