Key to Growing Restaurant Business Is Getting Lighter Users to Visit More, Finds NPD Group Study

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The key to growing sluggish restaurant traffic is getting lighter users to visit more. If half of the light restaurant users made one more visit per year it would be an incremental increase in sales of $1.1 billion, finds a new report from The NPD Group, a leading global information company.

It’s important to continue recognizing heavy buyers, but to grow their business, restaurant operators need to increase visit frequency from all user groups, including light and super light users,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group restaurant industry analyst.

Getting customers who visit restaurants less to visit more may be overstating the obvious in terms of boosting sluggish U.S. foodservice traffic growth. It turns out that it’s not. If half of the light restaurant users made one more visit per year it would be an incremental increase in sales of $1.1 billion, finds a new report from The NPD Group, a leading global information company. The report, which is based on NPD’s receipt mining service, Checkout Tracking, and its ongoing foodservice market research, examines the reasons why consumers have cut back on foodservice visits and which type of users — heavy, medium, light, and super light —decreased their visits the most.

The majority of consumers (75 percent) who have decreased their restaurants visits say they watch how they spend their money on most or all purchases, and a high percentage of these respondents think that restaurant prices are too high, according to the NPD report, Losing Our Appetites for Restaurants. Of the consumers who have cut back on restaurant visits the most are heavy restaurant users, who typically visit restaurants three or more times per week. Heavy restaurant users are the perceived low-hanging fruit for many restaurant operators and the target for promotional efforts. This user group’s visit cutback was a major factor in foodservice traffic growth coming to a halt, says NPD.

Although they may not visit often, NPD finds that super-light and light users, who typically visit restaurants one time per week, and super-light users, who visit less than one time a week, are extremely valuable customers. Combined, these two groups account for 47 percent of all restaurant customers in a year, and they spend more per visit than heavy users. If half of light users made just one more restaurant visit each year, NPD calculated that there would be an incremental sales increase of $1.1 billion. These users told NPD that regular discounts and, more importantly, discounts of their choosing would entice them to visit more.

“Many restaurant operators have spent much of their resources and time in rewarding heavy buyers,” says Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD and author of the report. “It’s important to continue recognizing heavy buyers, but to grow their business, operators need to increase visit frequency from all user groups, including light and super light users.”

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About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides market information and business solutions that drive better decision-making and better results. The world’s leading brands rely on us to help them get the right products in the right places for the right people. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, diamonds, e-commerce, entertainment, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, technology, toys, video games, and watches / jewelry. For more information, visit npd.com and npdgroupblog.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup

Checkout Trackingsm provides detailed information on consumer buying behavior, based on receipts for both online and brick-and-mortar retail purchases from the same consumers over time. Checkout Tracking delivers precise category, brand, and item-level purchase detail linked to buyers and their demographics, useful for analyzing competitive market baskets and identifying purchase patterns. Information is collected from more than 50,000 consumers from NPD’s receipt-harvesting mobile phone app and the scanning of more than 4 million in-boxes for e-receipts through Slice Intelligence.

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Kim McLynn
The NPD Group
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