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“LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR BAD FOOD”

25+ Restaurant Industry Customer Statistics You Must Know for 2022

Finance + Metrics

Mandy Ellis

OCT 04, 2021

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Gaining an edge on creating the best customer experience for 2022 guests starts right now for strategic planning. Thanks to these customer-centric restaurant industry stats, foodservice operators will be able to swing pandemic shifts into practice in their restaurant business properly for the coming 12 months. 

From off-premise dining to online ordering and reviews to social media to food delivery and loyalty programs, these industry report statistics offer delectable data to determine your detailed plan. No matter if your customers are Millennials and Gen Z or Boomers and Gen X, here’s how to ramp up for 2022:

Gotta-Know Restaurant Industry Statistics

1. Consumers (Especially Millennials) are Returning to Splurges 

In a May 2021 McKinsey survey, 50% of U.S. consumers wanted to indulge themselves and 82% of Millennials who make over $100,000 said they’re ready to splurge. Plus, 50% of restaurant consumers expect their frequency of dining out to return to normal levels within six months. Exciting news for restaurateurs after the past year! 

2. Restaurant Industry Sales are Rebounding.

As of July 2021, Statista reports that bar and restaurant sales climbed to an all-time high of $72.2 billion up from the pandemic low of 29.9 billion in April 2020.

3. Online Reviews are Still the Gold Standard. 

A ginormous 94% of U.S. restaurant industry diners base their dining decisions off online reviews.

4. Your Own Takeout App Trumps Third-Party Players.

Because of Coronavirus, by 2023, Statista expects smartphone food delivery app users to increase to 53.9 million, and U.S. consumers show a strong preference where 67% of Statista respondents say they’d prefer to use a restaurant’s own app or website for food delivery.        

5. Over-Delivering on Delivery.

68% of Deloitte industry report respondents order takeout more than once a month and 52% order delivery more than once a month, which includes a 14% increase on both during COVID-19. But restaurant owners, make sure you prioritize cleanliness and social distancing in your business, as 71% requested contactless delivery.

6. We Like Big Checks (No Lie).

Restaurant businesses that allow customers to pay using their preferred digital ordering method (apps, kiosks, voice assistants, wearables) see 14% higher check sizes.  

7. Digital Dollars Dominate.

70% of U.S. consumers prefer digital online ordering for off-premise delivery and 30% of restaurant customers say technology options make it more likely they’ll order delivery (that means ramping up your POS capabilities!). With pandemic shifts, 79% of people have a restaurant app, 57% have a third-party delivery app, 48% follow a social media account from a restaurant or food brand, and 21% have chosen a restaurant or fast food based on social media posts or photos.

8. Emotional Connections Increase Customer Value.

When an emotional connection develops between restaurants and their customers, a Harvard Business School study found those customers become 27% more valuable to restaurants. (This is the secret sauce to how a restaurant dives into increased profits.)

9. Word of Mouth Gone South.

Out of foodservice guests with a positive experience, 60% said they’d dine at that restaurant more frequently, 39% said a good experience would encourage them to spend more, and 41% recommended the restaurant to family and friends. However, 73% of guests who had a poor experience that was not resolved by restaurant management told their family and friends about the poor experience.

10. Resolution = Revenue.

When guests had a food industry service failure while dining in the last three months, which 33% had, when the issue was resolved to the guests’ satisfaction, 79% of those diners said they planned on returning to the restaurant.

11. Millennials Still Monetizing Trends.

After seeing foodservice, fast food, quick-service, and full-service restaurant content online or on social media, 86% of Millennials try a new restaurant and 28% of Millennials are willing to pay more at restaurants if it means employees are paid higher wages. Plus, compared to 16% of Gen X restaurant industry diners, 24% of Millennials say where they choose to dine reflects who they are as a person.

12. America Online Loyalty.

When it comes to customer loyalty programs, 67% of diners who’ve placed an order online visit restaurants more frequently than those who haven’t, and 63% of diners say discounts and promotions through mobile are important to them. Additionally, 42% of Millennials in a National Restaurant Association (NRA) study said they’d be willing to pay to participate in a loyalty program that guarantees online reservations on busy days, discounts on specific items, or offers skip-the-line privileges.

13. Meal Kit Subscriptions for At-Home Faves.

More than 50% of consumers surveyed by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) said they’d purchase a meal kit if their favorite restaurants offered it, and when considering Millennials and Gen Z, that rises to 75% who are likely to purchase. 50% of consumers would also buy groceries (fresh, uncooked food items including meat, produce, dairy, bread, or pasta) from restaurants if they were available.

14. Waste Not, Want Customers Not.

Green is still growing in small businesses and restaurant operations where 78% of customers are willing to pay more for their meals in a green restaurant, and 36% of consumers in a 2019 Facebook Trends and Insights Report claimed they want restaurant industry operators (especially limited-service restaurants) to concentrate on producing less packaging waste when it comes to straws, utensils, and containers.

15. Four-Star Minimum Feedback.

Customers don’t trust companies or restaurant operators with lower than 4-star ratings on reviews sites, with the most common filter applied as only companies with 4-star ratings and higher. Plus, 33% of diners won’t eat in restaurants where the online rating is lower than 4-stars on reviews sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google.

16. The Key Star for Boosted Revenue.

For every rating star added to a Yelp review, a Harvard Business School study found that translated to a revenue increase of 5% to 9%. 

17. Sustainable Gains.

Continuing the locally-sourced, sustainable, healthful trend, 62% of consumers surveyed by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) said that locally-sourced food would make them choose one restaurant over another and 61% said they order more healthful options at restaurants (especially quick-service) than they did two years ago. 58% of consumers said the primary reason they like locally-sourced food in restaurants is that it supports farms and food producers in their community, and 51% of consumers say the availability of environmentally-friendly food would make them choose one restaurant over another.

18. Positively Post DMs, Messages, Comments, and Likes.

If you’ve engaged positively with customers on social media through DMs, comments, likes, shares, and messages, that engagement often leads to increased customer visit with 74% of MGH survey respondents who actively follow and engage with restaurants on social media saying they’re more likely to visit and order food from those establishments. Also, 71% of restaurant customers say they’re more likely to recommend a restaurant that responds quickly to them on social media.

19. Lightning-Fast Negative Review Responses Necessary.

According to a 2021 report by ReviewTrackers, the Coronavirus pandemic accelerated quickness of response time with 53% of customers expecting a response from restaurant managers to their negative review within a week. Faster review response times have also been closely linked to a positive reputation and 94% of consumers say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business.

20. Drool-Worthy Photography FTW.

With the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Report showing 53% of consumers believe takeout and delivery services are essential to the way they live, photography plays a critical part in enticing customers and creating a successful restaurant. 45% of U.S. restaurant goers in an MGH survey said they specifically look for food photos on restaurant websites and 36% say food photography is what discouraged them from visiting a restaurant. 60% of Gen Z and 55% of Millennials look for photos of food on a restaurant’s website, and 50% of Gen Z and 44% of Millennials say a restaurant’s website discouraged them from visiting because the food photography wasn’t enticing.

21. Say My Name – or at Least Know it.

OpenTable’s Diner Survey found the most important things diners want restaurant industry employees to know are their names (65% of respondents) and their favorite drink (50% of respondents). 95% of restaurant guests said they’d be more likely to go back to a restaurant if the staff catered specifically to their personal preferences as well.

22. Hospitality Tech Happiness.

73% of diners agree that restaurant technology (like integrated POS systems) improves their guest experience, Toast found, and by 2025, use of QR code payments will grow 240% due to the cashless payment demands of the pandemic.

23. Booze Boosts Bottom Line.

According to the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, 53% of Millennials (and 35% of off-premise customers) are more likely  to choose a restaurant that offers alcoholic beverages with their takeout order. And since the pandemic’s start in March 2020, 70% of full-service restaurant operators added alcohol as a to-go option due to overwhelming consumer demand.

24. Delivery Fee and Distance.

US Foods found that delivery customers are willing to pay up to $8.50 per delivery fee with tip included (hello restaurant jobs!) with the longest acceptable delivery timespan adding up to 30 to 40 minutes.

25. Lock-and-Key-Up Personal Info.

Due to changes in data privacy, as of 2020, up to 56% of consumers want to know how restaurant operations use or plan to use their personal information.

Bonus Fun Fact

If they were available, 69% of consumers would use their vehicle’s built-in heating tray to keep food warm. 

Wrapping it up

We know there’s a ton of info packed into each restaurant industry stat, but take the pieces of data that work best for your 2022 marketing strategy and put them to work. Being strategic also means being smart about which stats can make the most impact on your business. Be that social media, videos, online reviews, your POS system, takeout, or delivery, knowing how to double-down on the right shifts backed by recent studies can make all the difference when it comes to next year’s bottom line.

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