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Eating Out: The Dining Habits of Today’s Consumers

About 45 percent of people go out to eat several times a week. Another 20 percent do so once a week. So it comes as no surprise that the restaurant business is doing well, with annual sales reaching $863 billion.

But like any high-profit venture, restaurants face stiff competition. Whether you own a popular diner franchise or run a neighborhood cafe, you’ll need more than a social media presence and word of mouth to keep your tables full. A good way to do that would be to figure out how and what people prefer to enjoy their meals.

People Want More Information

Easy access to information is critical to the modern consumer, but people also want more details. Diners, in particular, demand transparency when it comes to the source of their food. People want to know if the produce or meat products were bought from sustainable farms. There is a conscious effort to learn more about food products because consumers want to know the impact of their purchases.

But many diners go beyond tracing the origins of their meals. They also want transparency on corporate performance. Is your restaurant practicing fair trade, hiring diverse staff, and providing fair wages? Clearly, consumers are not just concerned about the quality of the food you put out. They also want to determine if they’re patronizing a good business.

Food as Medicine

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Part of doing good business is offering your customers a healthy option. Diners want restaurants that can serve up hearty yet healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This shift to healthy eating behavior could be attributed to people seeing food as a kind of medicine.

About 80 percent of consumers, according to Nielsen, have adopted this way of eating. They’re cutting back on sodium, sugar, and dairy to manage, prevent, and even reverse illnesses. But this doesn’t preclude the need for indulgence; Americans still want to enjoy comfort food.

The key is to switch certain ingredients with organic ones or add superfood in some meals to attract health-conscious diners. Some of these ingredients could include reishi mushroom (which is said to improve the immune system), sweet potatoes (which contains an antioxidant that could reduce the risk of cancer), and kefir (which lowers blood pressure and reduces cholesterol).

Fast-Casual is Hot

The rise of healthy eating has transformed the “fast food concept.” Although people prefer better food, they’ll still demand speedy service. So instead of making that quick trip through a fast-food drive-through, most people now walk into fast-casual restos.

Fast-casual restaurants, in comparison to fast food chains, prepare high-quality, fresh food in an informal setting. Counter service is offered to speed up service.

And business for restaurants under this category is booming, with sales reaching $863 billion in 2019. Diners choose fast-casuals for their taste, convenience, and value. Projections for this sector are so high that it may not be long before it reaches the global powerhouse status of popular fast food chains.

Competition is tough in the restaurant industry. But its lucrative opportunities may compel you to jump in the race. Maximize the potential of your business by knowing what it takes to attract today’s diners.

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