Coupons can be a death ray to the usual restaurant choice, study finds

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How fickle are restaurant customers? Although more than half (54%) tend to visit an establishment they know, 1 in 5 (20%) will forsake the tried and true to hit a place offering a coupon or other promotional deal, according to new research.

The data suggests that bargains can act like Kryptonite on brand loyalties. Roughly two-thirds (64%-67%) of frequent restaurant guests will bypass old favorites for an unfamiliar place offering a coupon, the research shows. And even when picking among a group of restaurants they know and like, 3 out of 5 (60%) will opt for the one that offers a coupon.

The study is based on a survey of 1,500 adult consumers conducted by Technomic, the research sister of Restaurant Business, for Valassis, a marketing concern that specializes in couponing.  

The findings indicate that coupons remain an effective marketing tool. More than 3 out of 4 restaurant guests (77%) use them, and those coupon users tend to dine out seven times per month versus 4.8 times for nonusers.

Two out of 5 (41%) of the respondents said they would like to receive coupons at least once per week. Millennials have an even stronger preference, with 54% saying they favor weekly distributions, as do parents, with 49% desiring at least a coupon a week.

The study focuses on how coupons can change a diner’s decision about where to eat. The effectiveness is high among patrons of both full- and limited-service establishments, with bargains from casual-dining restaurants having an edge. Two-thirds (67%) of their consumers said they could be coaxed to try an unfamiliar place if a coupon is available, compared with 64% for quick-service fans.

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