The Waiting Game: What’s Driving Consumer Decisions in the Food Industry?

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TrendSource and GroupSolver™ teamed up to uncover the factors that influence a consumer's decision to stay or to leave.

When dining at a fast casual or quick-service restaurant (QSR), long lines during peak hours are an inevitable part of the process. Due to unavoidable circumstances, what started out as a simple trip to get a quick bite to eat has now been reduced to the question, “Should I stay or should I go?” TrendSource and GroupSolver™ teamed up to uncover the reasons that might encourage a consumer in this scenario to either stick to the plan and stay in line or depart for an alternative dining option.

In order to uncover the answers to these questions, TrendSource utilized GroupSolver’s™ unique platform, which algorithmically finds similarities in natural language responses and aggregates them based on their commonalities to provide a solution to the question(s) asked. The software identifies the most prevalent sentiments from the original qualitative data, and quantifies them, facilitating not only the identification of deeper, actionable insights buried in the data, but also helps the analyst avoid hours of endless, error-prone manual coding.

Using the GroupSolver platform, TrendSource was able to identify that, whether staying or leaving, consumers seemed to weigh three types of factors when determining their plan of action: external, internal, and justifying. Participants said that when external expectations like “The workers are not moving fast enough” are not met, internal factors like, “Well, I’m too tight on time” begin to carry more weight. Finally, this stress on internal factors can ultimately encourage consumers to begin justifying their choice to leave with reasons like, “This food probably wasn’t that healthy for me anyway.”

Interestingly, the reasons to leave were much more unified than the reasons to stay. Factors that influenced leaving fell into two groups: speed of service and time the customer could afford to wait. However, reasons to stay were much more irregular and included issues like the store’s environment, food choices, and product affordability.

The lack of regularity amongst “stay factors,” though, is a point of opportunity for the restaurant industry– by identifying the triggers that drive a consumer to leave, companies are able to develop strategies to convince them to stay.

While additional studies can look at the factors discussed above in the context of specific QSR’s or fast casual restaurants to see how they might vary, these initial insights provide a preliminary look at some of the influences that are at play in the mind of the consumer while they wait in long lines. And while some answers have been provided, new questions like “How does the time of day influence these consumer decisions?” will lead to future studies.

Click here to view the full breakdown of the study [Infographic].

About GroupSolver

GroupSolver™ is a San Diego based technology company developing innovative solutions for market researchers. Its platform offers companies and research professionals a unique approach that blends qualitative and quantitative customer research methods. GroupSolver™ provides fast, unique and robust insights virtually in real time. Find out more at

About TrendSource

As a strategic market research consultant, TrendSource provides business intelligence, customer insight and compliance solutions to improve operational efficiency and enhance the customer experience. Each TrendSource program is tailored to your needs and executed using a systematic approach that ensures the right questions are being asked, the quality data collected are presented in easy-to-interpret summaries that identify economic benefit, ROI and recommended actions. For more info, visit

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Heather Parker
TrendSource, Inc.
+1 (619) 718-7467 Ext: 237
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