Restaurant guests in cost-saving mode are eating out less and more conscious of menu prices, according to Restaurants: Consumer Trends Fall 2022/Winter 2023 a report produced by Provoke Insights in collaboration with Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine.
Half of respondents say they are eating out less at full-service restaurants than they did six months ago and they fear their financial future with the economy and inflation listed as major concerns. Eating more at home is the top way consumers are trying to save, according to the report.
The prices of items on the menu are the highest area of dissatisfaction when eating at a restaurant as well as menu item availability. When dining out, more than half of consumers are watching their pennies and selecting cheaper items on the menu or cutting out desserts and/or appetizers to save on the bill.
What can restaurant owners take away from the findings, particularly as we head into the holiday season?
“Restaurants cannot take a passive approach to holiday dining, as more consumers are looking for cost-saving options,” Carly Fink, president of Provoke Insights, told MRM. “Restaurants should use their advertising channels, such as email, social media, and their website, to promote all the benefits of dining with them during the holidays. This can be unique benefits such as live music, festive menus, charity donations, or small gifts at the end of the meal. Other options offer a promotion or a discount, but you may not want to diminish your brand image with cost-cutting options for restaurants that offer a fine dining experience.”
Fink also suggested that discounted three-course meal option may convince patrons who are hesitant to buy that extra appetizer or dessert.
What can restaurant owners expect to see in the coming months as they prep for a new year?
“As Americans are cutting back on their dining experiences, restaurants must be more proactive in getting customers in the door,” added Fink. “Unique offerings to help separate from the competition may be helpful. However, restaurants must consider their offerings and what would work for their clientele. For fast food, it may be promotions or discounts, while for more upscale, it can include experiences, special events, or even new technologies.”
Provoke Insights conducted a 15-minute survey among 1,500 Americans between the ages of 21 and 65. The study was in-field from Autumn 2022.