Restaurant Guests Will Pay More for Quality

Published on
October 16, 2008

Although consumers are not eating out as often as they did before, a new study finds that many diners are willing to pay more for premium meats and healthy foods.

In a recent survey from research and consulting firm Technomic of Chicago, consumers said they would pay more for lunch and dinner at restaurants that offer premium proteins, fresh baked bread and healthy ingredients.

Thirty-three percent of consumers said they would spend more at a restaurant for lunch if the eatery offered premium meats, while 40 percent said they would spend more on dinner if the restaurant provided premium meats.

Twenty-two percent said they would spend more for healthier dinner fare, and 21 percent said they would be willing to spend more for healthier lunch items. All-natural ingredients were also important to 15 percent of restaurant guests for dinner and 13 percent for lunch, while only 9 percent would pay more for organic ingredients at dinner.

"Consumers are spending less on dining out and feel they have to allocate restaurant spending more wisely," says Darren Tristano, executive VP of Technomic.

Dan McGowan, president of Big Bowl in Chicago, which operates eight authentic Chinese and Thai full-service restaurants, sees first-hand that restaurant guests are paying for high quality, authentic food. Despite the difficult economic climate, Big Bowl's sales have risen by $5 million over the last three years.

McGowan attributes the chain's growth to the fact its customers realize that they are getting a value; a $12 average check for lunch for local, organic, sustainable, made-from-scratch food.

"The Big Bowl consumer is younger and more educated. They get why the price of a dish might go up 50 cents when we switched to free-range chicken, for example," says McGowan.

At the same time, Technomic's study also found that 91 percent of consumers who are decreasing their restaurant spending are cutting back by dining out less frequently. In addition, 32 percent are buying less expensive food when they do go out to eat and 19 percent are ordering smaller amounts.

Contributing Editor

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