We conducted a study asking 1000 respondents what were factors that likely would make them choose one restaurant over another. We used Google Surveys and targeted males and females between the ages of 18 to 65+ from coast to coast. The graph below reveals the results.
When given the choice between 10 different restaurants near them, an astounding 39.2% of respondents indicated that they would choose based upon “the one with the best online reviews”. This is compelling, given that the second most popular response was “the one closest to me” at 21.9%. We live in an age where people are presented with such a diverse selection of places to eat, it is difficult to filter the options. Given the sheer amount of restaurant selection in any given urban area, the easiest, fastest method of whittling down the options, is factoring in online reviews. Considering that the vast majority of people carry a smartphone at all times, it’s unsurprising that they would simply turn to online crowd-sourced review forums.
Additional insight is provided when demographic filters are applied for males and females between the ages of 35 to 44, revealing an increase to 45.5%. When focused specifically on females within the 35 to 44 demographic, that percentage increases to an astonishing 57% of respondents.
Looking at the second largest response, restaurant proximity is important:
The second largest group of respondents at 21.9% indicated they would choose the restaurant closest to their location. Time is a valuable commodity in people’s increasingly hectic lives. When choosing an establishment to dine at, close proximity is an important consideration for people. This perhaps explains why restaurants located in busy downtown cores tend to do well even when the competition is stiff.
A smaller yet important group none-the-less indicated that affordability is the most important consideration.
However, again compelling additional insight is provided when demographic filters are applied for individuals between the ages of 18 to 34. A whopping 25.3% of respondents within this demographic indicated that affordability is the most important element when choosing a restaurant. Therefore, that makes the monetary component the second largest response for people aged 18 to 34, when choosing a restaurant.
This is unsurprising, considering the socioeconomic standards of the demographic. As a generalization, both the 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 age groups have a tendency to not be as established as older demographics with more disposable income.
Given the competitiveness of the culinary industry, it comes as little surprise, that the most creative menu selection would make 16.2% of respondents choose one restaurant over the others. 65+-year-olds seem to care about creative menus even more than the rest of the population, as 24% of them have selected this answer.
With the myriad of food items readily available, people have increasingly discerning palates. Dining out is no longer purely about satiating hungry. Rather, people are looking for a “culinary experience” when going to an establishment. The more unique the menu offers, the better.
First impressions are everything when it comes to marketing a restaurant, or any business for that matter. The smallest, albeit still pertinent group of respondents, 5.1%, indicated that the restaurant with the best-looking website would be their deciding factor.
Web design seems to matter even among for 45-55 year-olds, as 9.3% of those have chosen this answer. Considering this is the audience with the highest purchasing power, restaurant owners should really pay attention to their website’s quality.
Websites should be fast, with relevant, unique content and have clear prompts for the best possible user experience across all devices. Considering that many restaurants have very basic websites, this is an area where restaurant owners can easily outrank their competition. Working with a web design agency that has experience in developing high-quality websites is a must.
We are in the midst of a culinary renaissance in Canada. On a consistent basis, new restaurants are popping up in every urban centre offering an array of options to satisfy any taste or craving. According to statistics, there are over 70,000 restaurants in our land of the proud and free. Take, for instance, Toronto, the largest metropolis in the country. With a population of nearly three million people, there are approximately 7,500 restaurants in the city. That figure includes licensed and non-licensed restaurants, bars that also serve food, and nightclubs.
The possibilities are extensive, with a near limitless amount of establishments to choose from. Restaurants are in stiff competition to attract patrons, and therefore must employ multiple strategies to improve sales.
There are numerous aspects of operating a restaurant that contributes to its success. Yet based upon the data we acquired from this survey, regardless of demographics, the primary contributing factor for restaurant selection is positive online restaurant reviews. A strong, positive online presence is vital for success. Given the sheer astronomical number of restaurants operating today, it’s never been more important for them to utilize a holistic SEO strategy to accelerate digital growth. Restaurant owners should place emphasis on acquiring the best online reviews, which in turn, will translate into the largest number of customers and sales.
Root mean square error (RMSE) is a weighted average of the difference between the predicted population sample (CPS) and the actual sample (Google). The lower the number, the smaller the overall sample bias.
Sarah Bauder is a senior content specialist at Little Dragon Media. Sarah has a degree in journalism and has a decade of experience writing content at numerous renowned publications. She enjoys writing about digital marketing, business, entrepreneurship and more.