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Nearly two-thirds of consumers leverage smartphones while dining in restaurants: RetailMeNot

By
May 17, 2016

Smartphones are everyone's favorite dining companion

Smartphones are everyone’s favorite dining companions

Nearly 66 percent of consumers opt to conduct a slew of tasks on their smartphones while dining out at restaurants, including browsing reviews and searching for coupons, pointing to restaurateurs’ opportunities to drive last-minute reservations and revenue, according to a study from RetailMeNot.

RetailMeNot’s latest study, “The Evolution of Dining in the Digital Age,” uncovers restaurant customers’ various mobile habits and digital savings behavior, finding that consumers nowadays are turning to their smartphones to make dining decisions more frequently than ever before. Additionally, many diners choose to leverage their ubiquitous personal devices even while at the table, suggesting that restaurant marketers should make their mobile coupons and digital bill-paying options as readily available as possible in order to ramp up sales.

“The biggest takeaway from this study is that restaurant marketers can no longer ignore mobile as a primary influencer on consumers’ dining decisions,” said Michelle Skupin, director of corporate communications at RetailMeNot. “However, it’s not enough to just have a mobile presence.

“Marketers should leverage the power of mobile in terms of personalization, data and partnerships. Serving up the right content, to the right audience, at the right time and at the right place will generate better results for marketers.”

The mobile scene
Consumers’ increasing reliance on their smartphones for decision-making is good news for restaurateurs that may be pondering whether to invest more heavily in their digital properties. Per RetailMeNot’s study, one in four diners surveyed claims to have at least one restaurant-specific app downloaded on his or her mobile device.

Sixty-eight percent of consumers who dine out eight to ten times per week also use a restaurant-specific app, suggesting that apps carry just as much weight as mobile Web sites do in the food and beverage scene.

Conducting research prior to dining out is also a major draw for individuals and their smartphones. Fifty-three percent of diners use their smartphones to find a restaurant location, while 49 percent and 37 percent leverage their personal devices to browse menus and research new eateries, respectively.

Individuals in the 25 to 34-year-old age bracket are more likely to research new dining spots on their smartphones than any other demographic, indicating that restaurants geared toward millennial customers must maintain a strong presence on mobile.

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Food enthusiasts enjoy checking reviews before choosing restaurants and ordering new dishes

Mobile usage also remains high once consumers enter a restaurant’s premises. Approximately 66 percent of consumers use their smartphones to undertake a slew of tasks while on-site, with 32 percent choosing to take photos, 19 percent checking social media and another 19 percent looking for online deals.

Meanwhile, 17 percent prefer to browse reviews – perhaps to help inform decisions regarding which dishes to order – 16 percent look up nutritional information and 8 percent opt to pay the bill with their mobile device.

Consequently, restaurateurs must ensure they take advantage of all revenue streams available via mobile channels.

“There are a number of tactics restaurateurs can employ to bolster their mobile offerings,” Ms. Skupin said. “One of the best ways marketers can expand their mobile ecosystems is by partnering with companies that have a large and engaged mobile audience.

“By tapping into partner networks and apps, marketers not only expand their reach, but they also gain more access to shared data. Marketers should leverage that data such as spending habits, app interactions and order history to begin to make recommendations specific to diners’ needs.”

Serving up the right content
Restaurant brands can also maximize their audience outreach by dipping into mobile incentives. For example, an eatery could offer diners 10 percent off a meal if they check in via Facebook and let their friends know of their whereabouts, or if they post a review about their experience on Yelp.

Mobile coupons are still of paramount importance to consumers – particularly those who are undecided about where to eat for their next meal.

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OpenTable’s bill-paying feature is popular with users

“Consumers are highly incentivized by mobile coupons,” Ms. Skupin said. “A whopping nine out of 10 customers have looked for a restaurant deal at least once. Additionally, 81 percent search for deals on a regular basis (13 percent search every time, 30 percent search most of the time and 38 percent search sometimes).

“Interestingly, high earners use online or mobile restaurant deals the most: 46 percent of diners who earn $150,000 or more per year have used an online or mobile coupon at a restaurant in the past three months. Furthermore, deals drive consumers to explore restaurants that they may not have known otherwise: 80 percent are likely to try a new restaurant if it is offering a promotion.”

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

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