What I Learned From Talking to Casual Dining Leaders

What will it take for restaurants like Olive Garden, Applebee’s and Red Robin to personalize and attract different in-person dining segments?

I’ve had interesting conversations these past few months with senior executives from various restaurant chains. By and large the big question is, “How do we create an amazing customer experience when that definition is continually shifting in the minds of our customers?”

The question is paraphrased from a few conversations, but terms like amazing customer experience and service excellence are common themes. Executives in service industries recognize that being good can get someone to try you once. But a personalized and amazing experience is necessary to turn them into a regular.

In the following analysis, we analyze who has returned to in-person dining at restaurants and what they want from the experience.

Two In-Person Dining Segments to Focus on During the Pandemic

Below we have 2 dining segments. The first is the “Family-Focused Diner” who is married or in a civil union, has kids and enjoys family-friendly restaurants. The second segment is the Young On-the-Go Single. They are 18-34, single, no kids, and choose restaurants that are fun, exciting or popular.

Let’s analyze the similarities and differences.

First, while we see that price is a primary factor for both segments, our Family-Friendly Diner is more brand loyal than their On-the-Go Counterparts.

Dining Frequency During COVID

What does that mean during COVID? When we look at these two groups and ask how COVID has impacted their dining frequency, we see that almost 30% of the nine million Young On-the-Go’ers report that they are going out to eat about the same amount as they did pre-pandemic, whereas only 19% of the Family-Focused Diners say their behavior was unchanged due to COVID.

But wait! Despite a slight under-index of ten points from the average, that leaves almost eight million Family-Focused Diners who say they’re ready to go out to eat.

So, what would it take to nudge these eight million Family-Focused Diners to go out to eat at places like Olive Garden, Applebee’s or Red Robin? Compared to our On-the-Go Audience, messaging around taking a break from cooking and cleaning are going to be much more effective from a personalization standpoint.

Conversely, our On-the-Go’ers are ready to celebrate!

As a Restaurant Looking to Connect with In-Person Dining Segments, What’s Next?

This article only focuses on the type of messaging most likely to nudge these different in-person dining consumer segments. Resonate runs the largest ongoing study that combines rich survey data with real-time behavioral insights to fully understand not only what would get people to return, but what will get them to keep coming back.

Categorized as: Blog Page, Consumer Insights, Data, Brand

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