Find out what today’s diners really want, including how they choose restaurants, their current dining habits, and their biggest deal-breakers.
From a global pandemic to sky-high inflation, diners in the U.S. and Canada have been through a lot in the past few years. And, understandably, it’s changed their dining habits, their preferences, and what they expect from restaurants.
To find out how consumer behaviors have changed and what today’s diners really want, we surveyed more than 2,600 diners from across the U.S. and Canada. We also spoke directly with real diners to dive deeper into the stories behind the dining out statistics and identify key dining trends that will define the years ahead.
With more than 100+ stats on diner frequency, values, habits, and more, our findings reveal just how much has changed in the past few years and what’s stayed the same. For restaurateurs, this data provides valuable insight into today’s diners and what’s required to provide the best possible guest experience.
A Sneak Peek at the Biggest Dining Trends
Here you’ll find a preview of the latest restaurant consumer trends. For a complete picture of the changing industry landscape and the biggest trends in foodservice, download the 2023 Diner Trends Report now.
The restaurant industry has undergone major changes in the past few years and dining habits have changed right along with it. So now the question is, what do today’s diners want?
It turns out, today’s diners want to dine in. 48% of Americans and 38% of Canadians say they are currently dining out weekly or more often. And Gen Z consumers are among the most frequent diners, with 62% of Gen Z diners in the U.S. and 64% in Canada dining out at least once a week.
On the flip side, just 29% of Americans and 25% of Canadians say they order takeout and delivery with the same frequency. While the number of diners ordering takeout and delivery is still quite high, it’s clear that dining in is has not waned in popularity – especially among younger diners.
Diners Turn Online to Decide
Whether they’re dining in or getting takeout, most diners do exactly the same thing before they order: check out the restaurant’s menu online.
Our survey of consumer dining trends found that 84% of restaurant goers always or often look up a restaurant menu ahead of time, and 79% always or often look at a restaurant’s website. This is a major increase from 2017 when our How Diners Choose Restaurants Report found that just 59% said they looked at a restaurant’s menu ahead of time and only 51% looked at the restaurant’s website beforehand. As it turns out, browsing the menu ahead of time is a cornerstone of current dining habits and one of the biggest digital trends in foodservice.
Diners Deterred By Negative Reviews
While it’s vital to understand what gets diners in the door, it’s also important to understand what keeps them out. And as our consumer dining trends report uncovered, a bad reputation is much more likely to turn diners off than high prices.
59% of diners in the U.S. and 54% in Canada admit that they have decided to skip a restaurant due to negative feedback. Overall, Gen Z diners in the U.S. are the least forgiving of negative feedback, with 70% saying they’ve been deterred from visiting a restaurant after negative reviews from friends.
But interestingly, menu price hikes are not as much of a deterrent as one might expect. Nearly half of diners – 45% of Americans and 47% of Canadians – say that menu price increases would only somewhat impact their decision to visit a restaurant, and more than a third of Boomers (35%) say that a price increase would only have a slight impact on their dining decisions.
This data suggests that while diners are sensitive to price increases, most diners are actually willing to pay a bit more to get the food they crave – it’s up to restaurants to figure out how to strike that balance.
Diners Engage in Their Inboxes
In addition to dining out statistics, our survey also looked at how diners engage with restaurants from the comfort of their own homes. And while there are plenty of ways for consumers to stay in touch with their favorite venues – from social media to mobile apps – it turns out that email is preferred by the vast majority of diners.
50% of diners report that email is their preferred way to stay in touch with restaurants, making it the preferred communication channel for both American and Canadian diners. But while email may be king, diners were clear that they don’t want to see their inboxes flooded. Only one-in-three Americans (32%) and just one-in-five Canadians (21%) want to hear from a restaurant on a weekly basis. In fact, “too frequent emails” was cited as the number one reason why diners will unsubscribe from a restaurant’s email list. The sweet spot? About a quarter (26%) of diners said they would like to hear from restaurants a few times per month and 21% said they would like to hear from restaurants just once a month.
The above is just just a fraction of the dining out statistics found in our 2023 Diner Trends Survey. For even more stats and an analysis of the latest restaurant consumer trends, download our free report.