Americans love to dine out. In fact, 88 percent of adults say they enjoy going to restaurants, so it makes sense for restaurant operators to pay close attention to consumer trends to build business and guest satisfaction.
The National Restaurant Association’s 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast provides insight into the mind of today’s consumer and what they are looking for when dining out. Major trends expected this year include use of social media, and increasing interest in mobile foodservice (i.e. food trucks).
Facebook, mobile phone applications, and online review sites have become part of many Americans’ everyday life. The Restaurant Industry Forecast shows that social media savvy consumers (frequent users of at least one social media tool, including Facebook, Twitter, mobile phone applications such as Foursquare, or online review sites such as Yelp) are more active in the restaurant community. These individuals dine out more frequently than the general public: 92 percent eat a meal at a sit-down restaurant at least once a month (compared with 84 percent of all adults) and 87 percent purchase a meal or snack quickservice restaurant or carry-out place at least once a month (versus 83 percent of all adults).
Not surprisingly, social media savvy individuals are also more likely to connect with restaurants on Facebook, MySpace or YouTube (29 percent, compared with 16 percent of all consumers), and post or read reviews on consumer-driven websites such as Yelp (30 percent, compared with 19 percent).
Restaurant operators are also picking up on this trend, and more than eight out of 10 say social media will become a more important marketing tool in the future. More than half also say they are likely to incorporate Facebook, online review sites, Twitter and blogs into their marketing mix in the next two years.
Another trend included in the Restaurant Industry Forecast is that of food trucks. Nearly half (47 percent) of consumers say they would be likely to patronize food trucks if their favorite restaurants operated them. The chefs in the “What’s Hot in 2011” survey also ranked food trucks and pop up restaurants as the hottest restaurant operational trend in 2011.
The 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast is free to NRA members. Also check out the video for a five-minute summary of the report.