The Data Point: Consumers Choose Restaurant Chains


There are people who prefer quick service restaurants (QSR) to independent restaurants, while others can’t say no to a five-course meal with excellent table service. It takes all kinds to build a consumer base, and catering serves them all, now catering more to their unique preferences.

For the digital divide: technology, customer service and innovation in the restaurant industry, a PYMNTS and Paytronix collaboration, we surveyed nearly 2,400 consumers to find out which services, features and technologies are preferred by different diners.

It’s a fascinating dive into preferences, touching on everything from server likes and dislikes to the future of dining in the metaverse. Here we call out three data points that illustrate what consumers prioritize in the types of restaurants they like to frequent.

Get the report: The digital divide: technology, customer service and innovation in the restaurant industry

  • 60% of consumers have only visited chain restaurants in the past 30 days

With six in 10 respondents saying they dined at chain restaurants exclusively in the month prior to the survey, that exceeds the share of diners at independent restaurants by four to one.

Given their popularity and traffic, we found restaurant chains that were heavily engaged in multiple channels to reach a dedicated consumer base. According to the study, “Restaurant chains are more likely to generate large shares of sales through multiple channels, while independent restaurants derive their revenue primarily from on-site dining. Similar shares of chain restaurant enthusiasts take take-out or dine-in food, 44% and 47% respectively, and a large share of independent restaurant-goers dine there, 73%, nearly four times the 19% who eat out.

  • 38% of exclusive chain restaurant customers value convenience when choosing chains

Unsurprisingly, channel lovers are there largely for convenience. Customers of independent restaurants place much less importance on convenience as a factor of choice.

We found that 38% of chain-exclusive consumers “value convenience when choosing where to eat, and 10% said they are primarily motivated by convenience. These numbers drop significantly for independent-exclusive restaurant consumers: 20% value convenience and only 1% of these consumers say it is their top motivator. These differences represent the largest gaps between what chain goers and independent diners value.”

  • The most popular restaurant feature is curbside pickup, now offered by 55%

Pandemic necessity has driven the creation and adoption of contactless home delivery, BOPIS and curbside pickup, perhaps in no sector more than restaurants.

According to the latest edition of The Digital Divide, “The most popular features offered by restaurants are curbside pickup, implemented by 55% of all restaurants; mobile advance order, 50% implementation; and support for contactless cards, implemented by 44%.

We found that 63% of restaurant chains now offer curbside pickup, compared to 40% of independent restaurants.

Get the report: The digital divide: technology, customer service and innovation in the restaurant industry


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