Eating out has always been a way for people to get out of the house, go enjoy a meal or some drinks with friends and family and take your mind off work, school or whatever it may be. A sort of ‘get away’ if you will. People of all ages and demographics eat out. It could be a nice steak dinner for a special occasion, or it could be a quick trip to get some pizza with friends.
Prior to the pandemic, we saw the most spending eating out from people ages 35-56, as they averaged just over $4,000 per year spent eating out. This makes sense. People in this age range typically have more steady incomes so they may be willing to either eat out more often, or spend more when they do decide to spend a night away from a home cooked meal. They also are more likely to have families which could be another reason for higher spending in this age range. But what kind of shifts, if any, might we see as restrictions are lifted and indoor dining is in full swing again?
In a web-based survey done in August, 2020 which was when COVID restrictions were in full effect, over 10,000 respondents were asked whether they had dined at a restaurant in the past 24 hours, and whether they sat indoors or outdoors. 17% of people aged 18-34 said they had dined indoors at a restaurant while only 12% aged 35-54 and 8% aged 55 and up did the same. While these numbers are hard to translate into today where many restrictions have been lifted, it does show there is more willingness from younger age groups to eat out than there was prior to the pandemic.
As a restaurant this could be some very valuable information that might give you an idea of what kinds of crowds you will be seeing come into your business. It will help pinpoint what kind of audience to target, some key marketing strategies you could use to acquire these new customers and ultimately how you can create that customer engagement and loyalty that every business is looking for. By seeing younger crowds, businesses will want to make sure they are able to modernize their brand and keep up with changing technology in the food industry. If you’re able to come up with new forms of entertainment, promotions and other events, you’ll have a much better chance of attracting these customers into your business. There’s also other small things you can do to keep up with the changing technology and trends we are seeing. Things like online ordering, and using QR codes for menus are trends that seem so very simple, yet have been heavily utilized by restaurants. These things alone may not bring you all the customers in the world, but we live in a world full of new methods and technology that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, so it’s important to keep up while you can.
Surely, 18-34 year olds won’t be the only customers you see coming into your business. If you’re able to create an atmosphere that appeals to all age groups, you’ll have a good chance at having success. Adapt to changing trends without making your business unrecognizable, it’s important to find a good balance between old and new. It can be more difficult for well known places that have been around for multiple decades. These types of bars may be more likely to have recurring customers and a bit of an older crowd, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make changes. See what works and what doesn’t, it doesn’t hurt to try. And hey, for all you know you may come up with a new idea that everybody wants in on. In the end, all you can do is interact with your customers, get first hand feedback and ultimately use that to make decisions that can engage your customers and help your business grow.