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How Consumers Choose Restaurants Has Changed Dramatically. Are You Keeping Up With How They’re Choosing?

Consumers’ Eating Habits Have Changed — Radically

Dining out and food delivery are on the upswing.

  • Restaurant spending = 51% of food dollars
  • 45% of diners eat out multiple times a week. Another 20% go out 1x
  • 51% of Americans get delivery from casual dining restaurants and 26% order takeout/delivery 1x or more each week.

The term “near me” is rapidly becoming obsolete because search engines presume consumers want proximity and immediacy and automatically serve up closest restaurants. Convenience is especially important to millennials and 55% of them view it as a top criteria in restaurant choice.

When You Know What People Want to Eat, You Can Attract Them at the Right Time

Eating habits/tastes have changed radically. Global palates, food restrictions due to allergies and health goals, and trends (e.g., poke, acai, cold brew) create new and unique demands.

Searches have become very specific. Whereas someone may have once searched for Italian food, they may now be looking for “calamari near me open late live entertainment.” (In fact, live music is important to 44% of diners.)

Sustainability is important to consumers. About half of consumers say that a restaurant’s efforts to recycle, donate food or reduce food waste can be factors in where they choose to dine.

Including the most popular search terms and features in your local keywords is essential.

Where Do Consumers Find the Foods They Want — Conveniently?

The smartphone and smart device are as important as the fork and knife. Restaurants are one of the most-searched categories. Once people find the food they’re looking for (along with features like proximity, entertainment, hours, etc.), 75% of decisions are based on those search results.

Most diners won’t look past the Google 3-Pack or first page of mobile results. Google recently started listing “most popular dish” on their Map listings, so that consumers can “dish-cover” new specialties.

Additionally, as voice search becomes more common, diners will pay the most attention to the choices they hear first. Alexa and Siri give consumers a few choices, so making sure you’re on that shortlist is critical.

Consumer-savvy and sophisticated multi-location brands must realize the significant impact that consumer local search behaviors are having on restaurant choices. Knowing how to leverage smartphones and voice devices is becoming as important as any other form of brand advertising... reaching the diner at the exact moment of decision-making.

Sarah Lockyer, Publisher, Nation’s Restaurant News

How You Rank in the Google 3-Pack Matters More Than Ever

Even if you have an incredible brand-building strategy for your multi-location restaurant — fast food, fast casual or fine dining — you may be invisible at the moment of decision-making if you don’t manage your Proximity Search Optimization proactively. We call it the Mobile-Local Last Mile.

Reviews (and responses to them) matter. About 92% of consumers read restaurant reviews. Even if your brand is a popular one, diners will base their decisions on the reviews of a specific location.

Your GMB (Google My Business) page has become its own mini-menu. Over time, it has even more detailed in terms of the types of information it displays about a particular restaurant location – photos, reviews across platforms, and even most popular dish. In effect, it has become a form of powerful advertising for EVERY location.

Concentrate on what you’re serving, and let us concentrate on ensuring more people discover and enjoy it!

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