The restaurant industry is a competitive one. There are more dining establishments and more diners now than during any other time in history; the National Restaurant Association reports over 1 million restaurant locations in the U.S. alone, a particular boon considering more than half the American population visits at least one of them each week. Couple these facts with annual restaurant food sales reaching nearly 800 billion dollars, and the stakes are high. To fill a niche and remain relevant, prospective, as well as established, restaurants have to hedge their bets with well-rounded and well-directed market research. Market research provides valuable insights regarding market trends and evolving consumer lifestyles so that restaurants of all types can better address and meet public demand. Here’s what quality market research for restaurants can do:
Enhance the Customer Experience
No single restaurant is ever going to appeal to everyone. Some people like quiet, intimate settings; others prefer boisterous ones. Some people want to bring their kids along; others want to dine alone. The preferences are as varied as the possible offerings, with specific generational cohorts preferring one thing, “people who like dogs” preferring another and everyone else liking a million other things in between. Before opening a new restaurant, market research can help you identify a specific demographic to target (based on certain spending habits, thought patterns and behavior) so that you can tailor your menu and services to it (and only it). Then, as you become more established, it can be used to gauge customer loyalty and menu appeal. Maintaining awareness of customer engagement enables you to balance your offerings with constantly changing resources, customer predilections and economic conditions so you can improve the customer experience, increase customer satisfaction and encourage customer retention.
Maintain Restaurant Relevancy
Restaurant market research also allows you to remain relevant. Culinary trends come and go; remember cronuts and cupcakes? Market research — even just reading the latest restaurant industry journal or reviewing secondary market research results like the National Restaurant Association’s report mentioned above — can give you insight into upcoming trends likely to affect customer preferences so that you can take advantage of them when it’s likely to be profitable and avoid them when it’s not.
Create a Competitive Advantage
Part of being successful is staying ahead of the competition. Restaurant market research helps you keep track of your competition and assess your own marketing practices so you can see where you stand in relation to others in the industry. Monitoring social media accounts, tracking online reviews, reviewing influencer and/or food critic comments can all point not only to how adept you are at serving your customers, but to how effective you are at advertising your restaurant, especially when you compare yourself to the competition. If you see competitors doing something well, you can learn from it, and if you see them doing something badly, you can learn from that, too. The more information you can gather, the better able you will be to effectuate solid business solutions.
Ready to Learn More?
The restaurant industry is constantly changing. In order to stay afloat in the face of increasing competition and evolving customer demand, restaurants must utilize robust market research techniques to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
Contact our team at Communications for Research (CFR) to learn how you can turn market research results into actionable and profitable business decisions.
You can also download our free eBook, “The Insider’s Guide to Successfully Using Market Research Online Surveys,” for additional tips on harnessing the power of the Internet for your survey needs.