In 2011, sales at restaurants nationwide reached $604 billion and American consumers enjoyed more than 60 billion meals away from home. According to a Culturewaves® report that studies recent trends, consumers will seek out choices that give them exactly what they want, when they want it. In this age of instant access technology, consumers have the ability to research, compare and decide where their hard earned dollars are spent. With those dollars, these consumers are looking for a combination of speed, convenience and service. Progressive businesses are seizing on this opportunity and are enhancing their products and services through innovative new concepts and offerings.
“There is no consumer services sector where these evolutions are more evident than in the restaurant industry,” says Ramon Winemberg, Founder and Chief Executive Officer for DCE Incorporated. New service techniques, like viewing a menu and ordering food off an iPad and menu enhancement options, such as providing healthy options are spreading. Industry studies have shown that 80-85% of restaurant consumers maintain loyalty to a brand because of the experience as opposed to the meal quality or price.
According to Corvirtus, a company focused on cultural influences, “Approximately 70 percent of all purchases are made by loyal customers. The most prosperous brands today are setting new levels of consumer experience through two significant strategies: convenience and customization.
Consumer convenience is being satisfied in several unique and innovative ways. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 53 percent of respondents said convenient delivery directly to their homes was very important and 40 percent craved convenient ordering options like ordering online or through a smartphone application. Some quick serve restaurants, like Burger King, have even begun testing meal delivery.
Mintel's Foodservice Trends Report showed that 58 percent of consumers like to customize their food orders. “As today’s consumers are becoming more and more health-conscious, restaurants have picked up on this trend and are now handing more control of the meal over to the individual diners,” says Winemberg. It’s exciting to see this new chapter in dining unfold.”