In this edition of MRM Research Roundup, we feature pizza predictions, Valentine's Day menu trends and lots about loyalty.
Pizza Ordering Predictions
HungerRush released the results of a national dining survey on 2024 pizza ordering predictions for The Big Game (February 11) and National Pizza Day (February 9).
The data revealed an overwhelming 72 percent of diners plan on ordering pizza this year on either The Big Game, National Pizza Day, or both.
Highlights of The Big Game and National Pizza Day Ordering Predictions:
- 32 percent of diners say they plan to order from a local chain or independent pizzeria instead of a big chain—revealing the opportunity for small and mid-sized pizza restaurants to double down on marketing efforts for The Big Game and National Pizza Day.
- 56 percent of diners said overall quality and taste matter most when choosing a restaurant to order pizza from. However, the best available coupon and fastest delivery time tied in second place. Offering special Big Game Day and National Pizza Day coupons that highlight speedy delivery and quality ahead of time can help restaurant owners maximize orders.
Normally, 42 percent of diners expect their pizza to arrive within 30 minutes. For busy pizza days like The Big Game and National Pizza Day, the expectation eases a bit. For example, during The Big Game, 33 percent of Millennials and 31 percent of Gen X expect their pizza delivery to arrive within 45 minutes.
What are the three most popular types of pizza they plan to order? The top winners are pepperoni (63 percent), cheese (56 percent), and meat lovers (51 percent). If you’re a pizza restaurant, plan on stocking up so you don’t run out of key ingredients in the rush!
Overall, 43 percent of diners surveyed say they make somewhat complex to very complex changes to their pizza orders. This means managing order complexity is crucial for pizza restaurants. A failure to handle complex orders with speed and accuracy can damage the customer experience for almost half of customers and lead to lost business.
Favorite Super Bowl Foods
A JeffBet study revealed America’s favorite Super Bowl foods, with some gameday classics appearing further down the list than you might expect.
JeffBet analyzed 75 popular Super Bowl party foods, using more than 4,000 search combinations, such as ‘how to make ___’ and ‘___ recipe’ in order to find which gameday snacks are being searched for the most.
In first place – perhaps unsurprisingly – is the humble pizza. It was found to be the most searched for Super Bowl food in all but seven states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia), and is searched nationally on average 6.2 million times per month.
In second place is chili, with 3.04 million monthly searches on average. Almost universally, it was found to be the nation’s second favorite Super Bowl food. Chili was the most searched-for Super Bowl food in three states, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee, and was the second most searched food in the remaining 47 states.
Third place goes to deviled eggs, with 571,168 searches per month on average. Deviled eggs came third in 21 states, with the highest number of searches coming out from California, averaging 52,659 monthly searches.
In fourth place is Buffalo chicken dip, with an average of 511,931 monthly searches.
Fifth place goes to guacamole. The avocado-based dip racks up 393,535 searches a month on average nationwide. The people of New York and Hawaii were the top searchers for guacamole, with the dip ranking as their third favorite Super Bowl food.
The remainder of the top ten features Jambalaya in sixth place, seeing an average of 393,535 searches nationwide. This Creole and Cajun comfort dish usually consists of meat and vegetables mixed with rice and ranked highest in Louisiana at third place, averaging 13,915 searches a month.
Chicken wings rank surprisingly low in seventh place, with 351,064 monthly searches nationwide. Chicken wings were the most popular in Nevada where they ranked as the state’s fourth most searched for food.
Eighth place goes to Sloppy Joes. The sandwich consisting of saucy ground beef and onions was searched on average 322,650 times per month across the nation. Sloppy Joes were the found to be the most popular in Colorado, Minnesota and North Dakota, where the sandwich ranked fourth.
In ninth place is bruschetta. This Italian antipasto sees 300,969 monthly searches nationwide on average.
Rounding out the list in tenth place are quesadillas. This classic Mexican dish is searched 296,268 times per month on average nationwide.
Interestingly, pizza and chili were found to be the nation’s favorite and second-favorite Super Bowl foods universally. The only seven states that didn’t feature pizza as their top choice were Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia – instead favoring chili.
Super Bowl Food
Average Monthly Searches
Buffalo chicken dip
A list of 75 popular party foods was created and paired with multiple keywords and phrases, resulting in more than 4,000 unique search terms. These search terms were run through Google Keyword Planner to rank average monthly search volumes for each food across the nation and in each individual state.
Valentine's Menu Trends
Restaurant guests heavily favor tasting menus this Valentine’s season, according to Lightspeed. This is not just about a meal; it's a curated journey of flavors designed for the ultimate romantic experience.
The Trend: Tasting Menus Unleash Culinary Delights
Lightspeed’s data reveals a remarkable surge in the demand for tasting menus during Valentine’s Day – a 483 percent increase in order demand and an impressive 525 percent growth in dollars spent.
Why the buzz? It's beyond just a dinner; it's an opportunity to take diners on an adventure crafted to say, 'Relax; we've designed this experience just for you.'
For those guests that prefer to have control over their orders, Valentine’s is all about feeling decadent. Restaurants see significant increases in steak (136 percent), truffle (118 percent), chocolate (108 percent) and caviar (100 percent).
Other highlights include:
Check Size Up, Tips Down: Guests are willing to treat themselves to menu items like steaks, caviar, truffles and tasting menus, resulting in an average 14 percent increase in their bill. However, when it comes to tipping, it seems Cupid missed the memo, and there's a 1.5 percent dip in overall gratuities.
No whining about wine: Wine sales increase overall by 86 percent, with the biggest increase seen in sparkling wine (163 percent), followed by red wine (68 percent) and finally white (58 percent).
Netflix and chill: Not everyone wants to get dressed up for a romantic dinner. Take-out orders increase on Valentine’s Day by 72 percent, with menu items like charcuterie, pasta and seafood all seeing an increased demand.
Future of Commerce
Square released its fourth annual Future of Commerce report, with comprehensive analysis on how business owners and consumers are considering the evolution of the restaurants, retail, and beauty industries. The report offers insights on how these businesses are shifting – and how consumers are responding – particularly amid further advancement in automation and generative AI.
In collaboration with Wakefield Research, Square surveyed thousands of business owners and consumers on restaurant, retail, and beauty industry trends across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
Decisively, 100 percent of surveyed restaurateurs in the United States say they plan to expand their businesses in the next 12 months through offering new products or opening additional locations, and 79 percent report feeling more optimistic about the future of their restaurants. At the same time, three in four consumers say they expect to pull back on restaurant spending in 2024 – so restaurateurs need to invest in more efficient ways to find and engage customers in order to see return on their investments.
Consumers are looking for a tech-forward approach from eateries – 73 percent of consumers surveyed are supportive of local restaurants using AI-based tools, and 78 percent would prefer to place their orders via self-serve kiosks. This bodes well for businesses where staffing is top of mind, as understaffing issues have persisted at restaurants for a reported average of 19 months. Nearly all restaurateurs (98 percent) believe AI will solve some of their staffing challenges, particularly around food prep and delivery management (42 percent), voice ordering technology (41 percent), predictive ordering and inventory management (39 percent), and food prep robots (38 percent).
Restaurateurs are not only investing in AI to address labor challenges – more established automation tools are also on the agenda in 2024. 55 percent of surveyed owners plan to increase their spending on technology and automation tools in the next 12 months, and 80 percent of consumers want restaurants to invest in at least one area of automation when they’re not at full staffing capacity.
As restaurant owners look to expand, 78 percent of those surveyed say they’ll experiment in the coming year with non-core offerings like meal kits, subscriptions, events, and more. Restaurateurs say that right now, nearly 20 percent of their revenue stems from products and services outside of their core restaurant offerings.
Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S.
Yelp announced its 11th annual list of the Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S., celebrating the best eateries across the nation. As Yelp celebrates its 20th anniversary later this year, the brand is spotlighting the stories, trends and data that show how Yelp helps people more meaningfully connect with their local community.
Topping this year's list in the No. 1 spot is Tumerico in Tucson, Ariz. The restaurant's inventive, vegetarian Latin food offers a mouthwatering taste of home from Chef and Owner Wendy Garcia, a James Beard Award semi-finalist. Yelpers regularly keep an eye on the chalkboard menu that changes daily based on seasonal availability, such as salsa made from Tucson-grown chiltepin chiles and pitaya (Mexican dragon fruit) or nopalitos (made from prickly pear cactus).
Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat, generated through a combination of community submissions and data, gives a unique perspective on what diners are craving across the country. This year, the list sees overwhelming representation from Asian, Asian Fusion, and Southeast Asian restaurants, making up 25 percent of the list. Yelpers are also loving noodle restaurants like Menya Rui (#2) in St. Louis, which serves more than 200 bowls a day of decadent noodles and broth. While Asian street foods remain popular, diners discovered and ranked more Korean places to eat like O’Kims (#58) cooking up authentic Korean cuisine in Honolulu.
While Asian cuisines were the most represented, this year’s list includes a diverse range of cuisines — from a beloved Mexican eatery (and 2022’s top spot), Cocina Madrigal (#52) in Phoenix with more than 4,100 reviews on Yelp, to EDOBOY (#44) in Orlando, featuring a standing sushi bar that only accommodates eight people at a time, as well as the unexpected Gino’s Deli Stop N Buy (#9) in San Antonio famous for its Philly cheesesteaks and perfectly made burgers.
Yelp’s engaged community of locals who share their opinions and reviews is what enables its community to connect with great local and affordable businesses – more than 85% of the businesses on the list are priced under 30 dollars per person.
Consumers Love Loyal
Eighty-five percent of consumers are joining loyalty programs, and restaurant merchants know they need to capitalize. Look no further than quick-service restaurants (QSRs), where companies like Chick-Fil-A, McDonalds, Dunkin’ and Panera are offering points and rewards to keep hungry patrons at their doors. And some are even incentivizing their loyal consumers, whether it be through double loyalty points earned from gift card spending or additional promotions provided for gift card usage (examples available upon request).
According to the 21st Annual U.S. Prepaid Consumer Insights Study from Fiserv, gift cards are becoming the perfect way to drive customer loyalty. In fact, incentive and loyalty programs are the primary reason most (55 percent) consumers buy gift cards for themselves.
The Annual U.S. Prepaid Consumer Insights study has measured how consumers view and use gift cards for more than two decades. Highlights from this year’s study, which surveyed more than 1,100 consumers in November of 2023, included:
Gift Card Spend Returning to Normal – Consumers said that gift card spending is bouncing back, with 69 percent of consumers purchasing the same amount of gift cards or more in 2023 compared to 2022. This was accompanied by increases in purchasing (40 percent of purchasers are putting at least $50 on gift cards, a 33 percent increase from 2022) and total spending (79 percent of consumers say they spend more than a gift card’s worth at a retailer).
The Digital vs. Physical Divide is 50/50 – While banking, purchasing and even some credit cards have gone completely digital, consumers are hesitant to give up on physical gift cards. In fact, consumers are split 50/50 in their preference between digital and physical cards. Why? 63 percent of consumers that prefer digital say the biggest reason for is the convenience of immediate delivery; while 85 percent of consumers preferring physical are looking for a tangible gift to give.
Variety is Key in Distribution – While consumers will often visit multiple retailers for tangible gifts, the same cannot be said for gift cards. In fact, 47 percent of consumers note that they prefer to purchase gift cards from businesses that sell a large variety of gift cards; and only 34 percent buy gift cards from the merchant it will eventually be redeemed at.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Gifting Grows in Popularity – Nearly 60 percent of consumers are aware they can send gift cards through P2P apps, a channel growing in popularity due to the convenience it brings to gift giving. Additionally, of the 55 percent of consumers who sent a gift card using a P2P app, 67 percent said it was easy and convenient, and 36 percent said it featured more merchants than expected.
One in four consumers use gift cards to better manage money – Inflation continues to impact consumer spending, and many consumers are turning to the incentives associated with gift cards to help keep them on budget. In fact, of the 62 percent of consumers who purchased a gift card for themselves in the previous year, 25 percent indicated doing so for budgeting/money management purposes.
Customer Loyalty Engagement Index
Brand Keys released its 27th annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI) assessments. “This year’s roster proves meeting or exceeding consumers’ expectations allows brands to transmute market-share and loyalty into category and market dominance.
Those brands are ‘Loyalty Juggernauts’ – brands of such overwhelming economic force that their ability to meet expectations makes them far more powerful than universal awareness alone,” noted Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president.
Restaurant Brand Loyalty Juggernauts
The model applies to all sectors and categories where brands generate high levels of consumer engagement and loyalty by better meeting consumers’ expectations. Doing that can turn a brand into a devastating economic force. This year, Loyalty Juggernauts include the following brands, with percentages indicating their ability to meet expectations consumers hold for the Ideal (100 percent) in their category:
Fast Food: McDonald’s (91 percent)
Fast Casual Food: Chipotle (84 percent)
Out-of-Home Coffee: Dunkin’ (93 percent)
Pizza: Domino’s (88 percent)
A complete list of the 2024 CLEI Brand Juggernauts in their categories can be found at https://brandkeys.com/customer-loyalty-engagement-index/
Loyalty Works Differently Today
“The loyalty paradigm has changed dramatically since the Cola Wars of the ’70s,” observed Passikoff. Today, loyalty – and consumer choice – don’t come down to one-or-the-other options. Today’s loyalty bottom-line comes down to consumers’ deepest expectations, and how they feel which brand measures up best. “Customer behavior and brand loyalty are now almost entirely governed by emotional values related to expectations, and expectations grow constantly,” noted Passikoff. This year’s results validate customer expectations as the most accurate and predictive loyalty indicators, proving conclusively that better addressing consumer expectations turn everyday-brands into “Loyalty Juggernauts.”
This year’s CLEI also makes it clear that consumers will not simply settle. Their emotional expectations are the hardest to measure, but that is why they are the most valuable. In this year’s survey, restaurant brand expectations increased 44 percent YOY, but most brands have only kept up on average by 5 percent. Loyalty Juggernauts reduce that gap up to 50 percent, thereby virtually guaranteeing ongoing and consistent customer loyalty.
The ‘Super Glue’ of Customer Loyalty
Being a Loyalty Juggernaut, moves brands beyond primacy-of-product, distribution, ad budgets, even pricing. Being a Loyalty Juggernaut essentially commands category leadership. “The ability to meeting those very high consumer expectations better than the competition acts like the ‘super glue’ of loyalty,” said Passikoff. “Brands create a virtually unbreakable bond with customers.”
The Economics of Loyalty
“Identify what consumers expect – create strategies, advertising and experiences that meet those expectations, and your brand can transform into a Loyalty Juggernaut. Customers will be six times more likely to engage, buy and buy again. They are six times more likely to think of you first, pay more attention to your marketing and social networking activities and actively engage with your brand,” noted Passikoff. “That’s the real payoff – blockbuster category leadership and more effective marketing.”
A few 2024 economic facts substantiate the cost-and-effort effectiveness of brand loyalty strategies:
- It costs 16 times more to recruit a new customer than keep an existing one.
- A five-percent increase in loyalty lifts lifetime profits per customer as much as 78 percent.
- A five-percent loyalty-increase is equal to a 12-21 percent across-the-board cost reduction program.
Recognizing Real Loyalty
The results of the 2024 CLEI offers up something more concrete than the accumulation of points and more to actual, behavior in the marketplace. “Real loyalty isn’t as nebulous as you might think,” suggests Passikoff. “Unfortunately, it isn’t something that just visits itself upon your brand. It’s not awareness, not satisfaction. It isn’t something you find on a 10-point scale. Those metrics only allow brands to bask in mediocrity.
Loyalty is more complex in the same way the consumer and marketplace have become more complex. Loyalty is the consumer-to-brand bond, the bridge between emotional engagement and ensuring future purchases. From a measurement perspective it’s the degree to which a brand meets expectations that consumers hold for the Ideal product or service in its category. It’s the ultimate answer to the question, “Do you know what consumers truly desire and how well does your brand deliver on those expectations?”
Value of Customer Experience
New Qualtrics data shows that companies lost $3.7 trillion (7 percent of total revenue) due to poor customer experience in 2023.
Across the 20 industries surveyed, consumers say they reduce spending after a bad experience with a company more than half of the time (51 percent). The fast food industry saw the largest reduction in spending year over year (five percentage points).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that fast-food prices jumped 6.2 percent in 2023. Customers are finding that fast-food meals don't offer the value they once did, particularly lower-income patrons, and they are less forgiving than ever before if their dining experience doesn’t meet the mark.
Plant-Based Food Market
The "United States Plant Based Food Market, Size, Forecast 2024-2030, Industry Trends, Growth, Share, Outlook, Impact of Inflation, Opportunity Company Analysis" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering.
The US plant-based food market was valued at US$ 8.88 Billion in 2023 and is predicted to reach a value of US$ 19.07 Billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 11.54 percent between 2024 and 2030.
Plant-based ingredients are an increasingly more famous meals choice this is crafted from plant based sources and free from dairy or meat. These components are gaining traction due to their nutritional value, excessive protein content, abundance of minerals and vitamins, and their environmentally-pleasant nature. Similarly, meat alternatives, which are products made to flavor, smell, and seem like real meat however are healthier than meat, also are gaining a popularity. The substances used in these meat alternatives are soy, wheat, and peas.
The plant-based food market in the United States is predicted to grow steadily because of the growing demand for nutritious and eco-friendly options. Many companies have recounted this demand and are introducing plant-based meals items with clean labels and plant-based components. However, the increasing cost of plant based food may additionally avoid growth, especially in countries with low consumer per capita income.
The reputation of plant-based products is on the upward thrust, and it is a trend that is in all likelihood to continue within the United States. With its numerous benefits, along with environmental sustainability and dietary value, this meals choice is increasingly turning attractive to customers.
The US plant based food industry has visible an upward thrust in recent decade due to consumer' growing awareness on decreasing animal product intake. Plant-based meat is gaining more significance, specifically in the context of vegan diets, which involve avoiding animal based foods altogether.
People adopt this way of life for numerous motives, consisting of fitness and ethical issues, promoting sustainability, and preventing animal cruelty in their food and beverages. The market for plant based food is rising, pushed by factors like health concerns, environmental focus, and changing consumer possibilities. The trend towards plant based diets and alternative proteins have been gaining momentum within the United States, and the market is expected to develop even more in the coming years.
The food market is currently experiencing a surge in preference for plant-based diets, along with vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian, fueled by rising health cognizance and interest in sustainable meal alternatives. According to Amy's Kitchen in April 2023 confirmed that 52 percent of Americans expressed an interest in vegan food.
Meat alternatives will represent maximum share in the plant-based food market in the United States
The plant-based meat industry inside the US is anticipated to increase appreciably because of the rising reputation of vegetarian and vegan diets. Soy based meat alternatives are becoming increasingly renowned because of their meat-like texture and flavors. Brands and startups inside the US are introducing soy-based products to cater to the developing demand, driven through consumer' desire for allergen-loose ingredients, health interest, sustainability problems, and advanced taste and availability of plant-based products in grocery stores.
Lion's revenue share in the United States plant-based food market is held by Quick Service Restaurants (QSR)
The QSR industry in the US is booming, thanks to the factor including fast urbanization, growing disposable income, and advancement in flavors and capabilities. There has been an extensive growth inside the popularity of plant based meat, with several fast food chains globally leaping on the trend.
KFC, for instance, has become the first fast food chain to introduce a plant based chicken product to its menu. In January 2022, KFC delivered Beyond Fried Chicken nuggets made from plant-based meat to its menu in the US, marking a substantial milestone within the food market journey towards sustainable and ethical meals manufacturing.