F&B Insights

Survey Reveals America’s Dining Habits

TouchBistro, the POS and restaurant management system, recently released its 2024 Diner Trends Report. Surveying more than 1,500 diners across the country revealed some interesting findings, the shifting habits of consumers as spring approaches. 

In addition to changing dining habits defined by generations, they also noted the impact of rising costs. Ultimately, the survey demonstrated today’s restaurant guests are leaning toward takeout, quality, and human connection. 

Let’s discover what that means to restaurants throughout the country.

Generational Differences

TouchBistro noted, “Our report shows that the perfect dining experience differs across various generations and underscores the importance of cultivating an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere for every diner.”

First, for those who don’t stay up on the ever-changing generations, the following approximate ages as of 2024 will add some perspective:

  • Gen Z: Ages 12 to 27
  • Millennials: Ages 28 to 43
  • Gen X: Ages 44 to 59
  • Boomers: Ages 60 to 69 

Takeout preferences vary significantly, with 46% of Gen Z preferring delivery and Gen X leaning toward drive-thru. Ordering preferences also illustrate the generation gap, with 23% of Millennials and Gen Zs using a restaurant’s app when placing orders. In comparison, Boomers opt to call in their selections 38% of the time.

An important note: 72% preferred ordering takeout from the restaurant instead of using a third-party app.

This information can help you appeal to your target market, providing the technology and ease of delivery that appeals to the younger crowd and the personal connection the older generation appreciates. The top innovation that 23% desired was an option to pre-schedule their takeout orders, whether picking up or delivery. Only 2% were interested in AI-generated recommendations.

Considering that, across the board, a growing number of people are choosing takeout over dining in, it’s essential to create a seamless experience whatever approach they take. According to TouchBistro’s survey, 43% of diners order takeout a minimum of once a week, while only 39% dine in.

Knowing they expect quick service when placing a takeout order is essential. Over 20% said they won’t wait 15 minutes for their order. In the land of Baby Boomers, that figure rises to 43%. 

Selecting a Restaurant

This insight into how generations select a restaurant is particularly helpful when it comes to marketing. Knowing how your target market hears about your brand and chooses your restaurant can significantly impact your strategy. 

While Baby Boomers’ social media footprint is expanding, they still like the personal touch. When it comes to following the lead of the social media masses or their family, they choose the latter. About 80% have chosen a new restaurant based on a family member’s or significant other’s recommendation. Gen Xers lean toward friends and associates, with 83% listening to their cohorts when selecting a restaurant. 

By comparison, the majority of Millennials, about 67%, find their new dining experiences via positive online reviews. And, not surprisingly, if you’re targeting the younger crowd, make sure you’re engaged in social media. Over half, or 52%, decide their next new restaurant based on positive social media feedback. 

Searching Online

An incredible number of potential customers check out your restaurant online when deciding where to dine. The survey revealed: 

  • 85% check out the online menu.
  • 80% look at the website.
  • 64% performed a Google search, with the largest percentage exploring the food quality, followed by the cuisine and value.

These numbers reflect the need for a strong, professional, and enticing online presence.  

The Personal Experience

There was a time when popular predictions suggested the QR code would be the new restaurant menu. Guests suggest otherwise. An incredible 85% prefer a menu and chatting with a server. A mere 4% would rather scan a code.

Loyalty has always been critical in developing brand-loyal guests. The loyalty program is proving to be an influential factor in that equation. Almost half of those surveyed belong to a loyalty program, a 10% increase from 2022. These members also dine out more often than non-loyalty program members, making them an essential success component.

Another noteworthy mention: 40% of Gen Zers said a menu price hike would significantly impact their decision regarding where to dine. Over 30% of all diners agreed.

Before you raise prices, make sure you’re not affecting demand by checking out competitors’ menus. F&B Insights offers the world’s largest menu database and provides notifications when someone in your area changes an item or pricing. 

To learn more about F&B Insights or to schedule a free trial, contact F&B Insights today.

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