Customization and Ambiance Key to Driving Late-Night Traffic
Due in part to an improved economy, consumers are up for treating themselves to dinner more often.
Today, 64 percent of consumers purchase dinner away from home at least once a week, versus 52 percent in 2011. At the same time, late-night dining occasions are on the rise too: 25 percent of those aged 18-34 say they are visiting restaurants late at night more often now than they were two years ago.
At full-service restaurants, providing innovative opportunities for customization—build-your-own cocktails and create-your-own snack flights—may differentiate happy hour, dinner, and late-night dining programs. Within the limited-service segment, however, some operators are moving toward a more focused approach with scaled down menus featuring a variation of a few key, craveable products that appeal to late-night diners.
"The sheer enjoyment of dining out is vital for evening occasions," explains Sara Monnette, senior director, consumer insights and innovation at Technomic. "Attentive service, an appealing ambiance, and craveable menu offerings come together to create memorable experiences that drive evening traffic and allow operators to capitalize on resurgent interest in dinner and late-night visits."
Organized into five sections, Technomic's Dinner & Late-Night Consumer Trend Report includes menu, consumer, and competitive insights, trends to watch, and in-depth profiles of trendsetting and innovative brands. Additional findings include:
- While price is always a consideration, consumers are willing to pay for dinner fare made with premium, high-quality ingredients;
- Aligning with the overall snacking trend, 32 percent of consumers—up from 27 percent in 2011—say they sometimes make a dinner out of appetizers at restaurants;
- A location's ambiance is important to attracting younger consumers for late-night occasions: 42 percent of consumers 18-34 say a lively, upbeat atmosphere is very important to late-night dining;
- Half of consumers aged 18-34 (53 percent) go out for happy hour at least once a month, and 58 percent of consumers aged 21–34 say the type of alcohol drink available is an important factor when deciding where to go for happy hour.