Restaurant patrons place food quality as their top priority when choosing a restaurant

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A new survey reveals that 44% of diners currently eat out at a restaurant at least once a week. / Photography: Shutterstock

Take-out meals have increased during the pandemic, but now customers are returning to restaurants for dining experiences. And when choosing their dining destination, the quality of the food is a top priority.

That’s one of the findings revealed in the TouchBistro 2022 Diner Trends report released Wednesday.

Of the 2,600 diners surveyed for the report, 68% rank food quality as the most important factor when deciding where to dine. Location, customer service and price follow closely at 66%, 64% and 62% respectively.

Eating at local and independent restaurants is also a priority; 63% of respondents prefer them to chains and franchises.

Restaurant decision-making is also influenced by cravings, regardless of restaurant demographics. Research found that three-quarters of millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers choose a restaurant based on the type of food they want to eat.

But Gen Z is more likely to be influenced by social media and Instagram influencers; 39% of respondents in this group say they have tried a new restaurant on the sole recommendation of an influencer. While Instagram still reigns supreme, TikTok is on the rise: 21% of Gen Zers consult this platform before dining out.

Posting a mouth-watering menu online is definitely a plus for all generations, as 84% ​​of diners browse the menu ahead of time and 79% check a restaurant’s website before heading there.

Although inflation has driven up menu prices, higher prices are not necessarily a deviation. Forty-five percent of Americans say that increasing menu prices would only somewhat affect their decision to visit a restaurant, suggesting diners are willing to absorb some price increases to enjoy the food they love.

A bad reputation is much more likely to drive a customer away from a restaurant. And 73% of survey respondents would be deterred by a negative health inspection rating.

Chains are more likely than independent restaurants to offer loyalty programs, but independents could benefit from this incentive, according to the report. More than three-quarters (86%) of diners expressed interest in joining a loyalty program if it gave them access to discounts and coupons for free items.

TouchBistro is a restaurant management system that integrates point of sale, customer engagement solutions and other operational features into a single platform. The company partnered with Maru Matchbox to conduct the survey with 2,600 diners in the United States and Canada.

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