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What Customers Want in a Restaurant (Tips & Consumer Trends)

In a highly competitive restaurant industry, it is extremely important for the success of your business to stay on top of consumer trends and take advantage of all the tips and tricks for a successful restaurant that you can get your hands on. In this article, we will give you the low down on what diners are looking for in a restaurant and some of the ways you can make your business as attractive a place to eat and socialize as possible.

What Do Customers Want in a Restaurant? (Consumer Trends)

1. Employee Treatment

A new study finds that customers are paying more attention to how employers are treating their employees when deciding where to eat, especially when it comes to COVID-19 safety issues. According to the study, 30% of consumers have moved their purchases in the last 18 months to with stricter safety protocols. The study also showed that 22% of consumers have stopped frequenting a business because they had doubts about its commitment to safeguarding patrons and staff.

2. It Is All About Trust

One of the primary things that the study cited above shows is that customers place a lot of weight on trust when deciding where to eat. One of the reasons that treating employees well is so important to customers is that it is a clear indicator that they can trust the restaurant. While it is no new trend that a restaurant treating their customers well is an important aspect of trust, with 66% of respondents indicating seeing how a business treats its customers has a significant impact on how they view the business, a whole 47% said that a business that treats their employees well is more deserving of their trust than a business that does not meet these standards.

However, customer and employee treatment are just two of the factors that contribute to trust. Customers are now less likely to trust promises made by restaurants, such as “fast delivery,” without proof. For this proof, customers are increasingly turning to online reviews of businesses by satisfied or unsatisfied customers. Restaurants can no longer depend on traditional advertising but now must cultivate positive word-of-mouth promotion.

This can be achieved by asking patrons who seem to have had a good time at your restaurant to review your restaurant so that more people can share in your restaurant’s delicious food and good atmosphere. Another way to do this is to simply provide great service. People know when a restaurant really cares about the experience of its customers, and more and more people are taking to the internet to reward those businesses that do seem to care.

3. Age Matters

What customers expect from restaurants is becoming increasingly determined by what age demographics they fall into. This means that it is extremely important for a restaurant to have a clear idea of what their target age group is before they start implementing (or not implementing) some of the new consumer trends. Below, we outline some of the consumer trends that are highly stratified by age demographics.

Alcohol To-Go: Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it has been vitally important for restaurants to either deliver their food or have streamlined pickup options. A somewhat newer trend is not only offering food-to-go but also alcohol-to-go. Since the pandemic began, many jurisdictions loosened up their laws concerning alcoholic beverages outside of the restaurant’s premises to give restaurants a sales boost, but the option of alcohol-to-go is a lot more attractive to younger generations than to the older ones.

According to recent research, 70% of Gen Zers (consumers aged 21-25) said that having the option to add alcohol to take-out or delivery orders was a determining factor for choosing where they would purchase their food. 62% of Millenials said the same thing, while only 32% of Gen Xers and 12% of Baby Boomers indicated that alcohol-to-go affected their choice in restaurants.

Waiter or Tablet?: Another trend that we are seeing in some restaurants is a foregoing of the traditional full-service waiter for tablets and mobile devices that customers can use to order their food. 52% of GenZers and 45% of Millenials say that they prefer the tablet or mobile device but the majority of all adults (62%) say that they still prefer the traditional method of ordering food.

4. Healthier, Cleaner Foods…and Comfort Foods?

For many, the pandemic has been a time for self-improvement as can be seen by the meteoric rise in the proliferation and sales of self-help books, meditation apps, and workout guides. It can come as no surprise that a population dead-set on self-improvement will also seek to improve the food that they eat. At the same time, the pandemic has been very stressful for people and so more and more people are seeking out comfort foods.

People are different so it should be no surprise that people respond differently with their eating habits in a time of crisis. Many people are looking for locally sourced and organic foods, while many others or looking for the juiciest, greasiest burger they can find. If your establishment can bridge the gap between healthy, clean food and comfort food, then you will be poised to make the most of these trends.

5. Going Out to Eat

This is probably the biggest trend that we have covered so far, and although it might seem obvious, it is one of the most important when it comes to how restaurants should operate. While people still order a lot of food for delivery, more and more people are coming out of their cocoons and dining with their friends and partners in the physical space of the restaurant.

This means that while restaurants still need to focus on their delivery capabilities, it is truly time to put more effort into creating the best dining experience possible. Those who thought that diners would accept just any offering like someone lost in a desert coming upon a puddle of water could not have been more mistaken. In what might seem like an ironic twist, people have come out from a period of not dining out with even higher expectations than they had before the pandemic.

6. Outdoor Dining

One thing to keep in mind is that although people are going out to eat again, there are still many people who are worried about the risk of Covid-transmission inside a building filled with people. This is why it is still important to offer an outside eating option if your restaurant has the space. In places like New York, outdoor seating is a prerequisite to a restaurant staying afloat, but while outdoor seating may not make or break restaurants in other places, there is no denying that it can be a boon for business.

7. Personalized Offers

One of the biggest challenges for a restaurant, and also one of the most beneficial achievements, is developing a loyal clientele. One great way to do this is to give your customers personalized offers on your products. With personalized offers, diners will not only begin to feel like they are cared for by your restaurant but will also be more apt to think of your restaurant when it comes time to decide where to eat, whether or not they decide to capitalize on the personal offer. Personal offers, then, are a business practice that works to improve your sales on many different levels.

8. Environmental Awareness

Research shows that 71% of customers are more worried about the environment than they were before the pandemic started. One problem with the increase in delivery is the greater amount of waste that comes with plastic containers, packaging, and bags used for delivery. One trend among environmentally conscious restaurants is to use environmentally friendly and biodegradable materials for packaging the food they send out on delivery. This may cost a little bit more but will win you points with your customers.

Tips for Giving Your Customers More of What They Want

1. Make Ordering Food as Easy as Possible

We live in a stressful time, and any restaurant that can make it easier for people to order their food is sure to benefit both the customers and their business profits. A great way to do this is to allow your customers to order their food on your restaurant’s website. It is worth it to invest in a good website because people will become easily frustrated if the website is hard to navigate or is too slow. You will want to make sure that the website is properly optimized for mobile devices since many people will be ordering their food on the go.

2. Entertain Your Customers

Eating at your restaurant has to be more than what your customers can get at their own homes. This means creating an atmosphere that appeals to your targetted clientele. Unless you are a fine dining establishment, creating an entertaining atmosphere for your restaurant will likely involve the use of technology like TVs. When people are sitting down for a casual meal or drink with their friends or family, having entertaining programming on TVs placed around your restaurant can be a great source of entertainment.

This doesn’t mean that you should just put on whatever is playing on cable television. A much better method is acquiring a steaming device like loop’s free TV and signage streamer which is loaded with great content accessible to your restaurant at no cost at all. This will allow you the freedom to curate the vibe of your restaurant and keep your customers coming back for more.

3. Improve Customer Loyalty

Increasing personalization with your customers is extremely important but equally important is making sure that you are being transparent about how you are using your customer’s data. This all goes back to trust. People will often be willing to give their emails to a restaurant if they can expect deals and updates about events that are going on at your establishment, but if they find out that you have been using their data in ways that do not mutually benefit both your business and the customer, then many will view this as a breach of trust, and your methods for increasing loyalty may backfire.

4. Make Safety a Priority

We are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and people are still highly attuned to safety precautions taken by restaurants. Make sure that your business is both a safe place for people to eat, integrating outdoor seating if possible, and also a safe place for people to work. The more comfortable people feel at your restaurant, the more they will want to eat there time and again.

5. Inform Your Customers with Digital Signage

Digital signage, sometimes called electronic signage, refers to display technologies like LED walls (or video walls), projection and LCD monitors to vividly display webpages, videos, directions, restaurant menus, marketing messages or digital images. Digital signage can improve your business in many ways. For one, a digitally displayed menu is more eye-catching than a menu printed on paper and may better attract people who are walking along a street in search of a place to eat.

Moreover, digital signage is a great way to keep your customers informed about deals and events going on at your restaurant. You can also use digital signage to tell your customers about your safety procedures, where you source your ingredients, and your commitments to environmental sustainability. Digital signage is free and easy to set up when you order a loop streaming and digital signage device. When you have a company like loop, there is really no reason not to take advantage of this business strategy.

Hop on These Trends and See Your Business Boom

The restaurant business is in constant flux, and people expect businesses to quickly respond to their changing needs and desires. This is why it is important for businesses to stay on top of the latest trends and make important decisions about which trends are best for their target customers. No one should blindly follow trends, but being informed is much better than trying to operate a restaurant in ignorance.