Close to 80 percent of consumers say that “value” plays a major role when choosing where to dine, but their definition of value depends on a number of shifting factors outside of actual price, according to Chicago researcher Technomic.
Service quality and atmosphere comprise nearly 40 percent of Gen Z and millennial diners’ perception of value at all types of limited- and full-service concepts, said Kelly Weikel, Technomic director of consumer insights.
"While food quality remains essential, the overall experience is becoming more important to today's diners who are looking for fun, social and unique dining occasions," Weikel said. “They are looking for experiences they can share—both by connecting with others in the dining party and through social media."
The idea that perceived value is more important than actual value tends to hold true even for diners watching their wallets, said Warren Solochek, vice president of client development for market-researcher NPD Group, in a July interview.
Fast casuals definitely deliver in that arena, he noted, offering easy meal customization, exciting and seemingly fresh menu items, and a range of technologies that streamline the ordering and dining experience, thus upping customers’ perception of quality.
“The average check for fast casual tends to be higher than QSR,” Solochek said, “but people are willing to pay more.”
Technomic is owned by Winsight Media, Restaurant Business’ parent company.