TransUnion recently conducted its inaugural study of US consumers’ restaurant consumption — highlighting trends and preferences as inflation moderates and more workers head back to offices. Meanwhile, restaurant brands have accelerated adoption of digital apps — which initially helped mitigate pandemic-era restrictions. Now, they’re helping brands learn more about customers and use those insights to improve their digital experiences.
Our research centered on the spending differences between households with and without children. We found 32% of households with children spent over $250 per week and 65% dine out 3+ times per week compared to 10% and 45% of households without children, respectively.
The key insights around family spending, however, have implications for restaurant loyalty programs. Families find more value in third-party apps (e.g., UberEats) than restaurant apps in helping them plan meals. These apps function as marketplaces that help consumers find a restaurant that will meet their needs.
We also found speedy service (11-pt. spread) and healthy food options (7-pt. spread) were more likely to influence families on restaurant selection than households without children. Day of week was also a factor in how families (6-pt. spread) selected restaurants — likely as they work around their kids’ scheduled activities.
Restaurants can attract households with children by offering innovative menu options and price points that cater to family needs. An example could include “meal deals” that offer entrée/side options for a set number of guests, and a promotional component in the form of free drinks, dessert or large shared appetizer. It could also include a day or week of promotion.
Housing these options exclusively in your digital app provides several strategic benefits, including attracting more families to your loyalty program (and their accompanying first-party data); increasing order frequency; and the ability to modify options and pricing in an agile manner. Over time, this initiative could also train customers to order directly from your app or websites.
There are three ways brands can capitalize on opportunities with family diners: