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A new study by Technomic shows that even as consumers are expected to loosen their purse strings in 2011, finding a good value is still of the utmost importance.
“Consumers have become very adept at getting the maximum value from each dining experience,” says Technomic EVP Darren Tristano. “Operators should avoid getting caught in the middle. Your value statement should be loud and clear so the customer knows what you are offering and why they should come to you.” Tristano explained that surveyed customers said traditional casual offerings are just too similar across brands, and that upscale casual chains do not offer a dining experience that justifies the higher price.
“The Future of Casual Dining Consumer Trend Report” includes findings like:
• More than seven out of ten consumers who have been using coupons more often as a way to cut down on casual dining expenditures say they will continue to do so even as their finances continue to improve.
• Consumers say upscale casual-dining restaurants significantly outpace other casual-dining sub-segments for offering healthy options, likely because of the association consumers make between quality and healthfulness.
• Casual-dining operators are using small plates, snacks, bar menus, and combo deals in order to attract value-conscious diners. Smaller portions are another way ti satisfy consumer demand for healthier menu items, providing fewer calories along with lower prices.