Cultivating Craveability

When it comes to craveability, how does your concept measure up? This key attribute of restaurant food and beverage is a major purchase driver, with 83 percent of consumers saying that cravings are a main reason they purchase food away from home.

To provide a closer look, we recently published findings based on our Consumer Brand Metrics data in a white paper that delves into the importance of craveable items, the role of craveability in driving satisfaction and loyalty, and the chains that consumers say excel at triggering and satisfying their cravings. Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics program tracks consumer ratings of 115 national restaurant chains on over 60 attributes, including “Craveable items I can only get at this restaurant.”

Highlights from the white paper include:

  • Core customers call for craveable items. Frequent foodservice users are more likely to prioritize craveable items at restaurants than those who eat out less often. Three-quarters of consumers (74.7 percent) who visit restaurants or other foodservice locations more than once a week say that it is important for these locations to serve unique, craveable items they can’t make at home, compared to just two-thirds of those who visit restaurants less often than once a month (65.5 percent).
  • Craveable items are associated with visit satisfaction. Three-fourths of consumers who visited a chain they view as very good at menuing craveable items rated their last visit to this chain as excellent, and a fifth rated it as good—in all, 98.0 percent of these consumers scored their visit in the top two box overall. In comparison, just two-fifths (41.1 percent) of consumers who said the chain’s craveable items were good (as opposed to very good) gave their overall visit an excellent rating, and those who rated the concept’s craveability as lower than good were even less satisfied with their visit.
  • Craveability also plays a role in building customer loyalty. An overwhelming majority of consumers who rate a restaurant chain’s craveable items as very good (95.5 percent) say they will return to the restaurant in the near future, compared to 87.2 percent of those who rated the items as good, and two-thirds or fewer of consumers who gave the chain lower ratings on craveability.
  • Consumers rank the top chains for craveable items by segment:
    • Quick Service: Krispy Kreme, Cold Stone Creamery, Auntie Anne’s, Dairy Queen, Culver’s
    • Fast Casual: Zaxby’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Firehouse Subs, Noodles & Company, Jason’s Deli
    • Midscale: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Waffle House, IHOP, Big Boy, Bob Evans
    • Casual Dining: Red Lobster, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Olive Garden, The Cheesecake Factory, Famous Dave’s

Consumer Brand Metrics data reinforces the notion that craveable menu items are a critical element of the menu mix. These items drive a strong emotional connection with consumers and, in many cases, are the items restaurants become known for. To cultivate craveability, operators must develop and refine unique signature items that have the power to transform guests into regulars.

Note: The full white paper, which details how the above chains perform on craveability as well as overall visit satisfaction, is available for download here.


Colleen Rothman

Colleen Rothman is a Consumer Research Manager at Technomic Inc. She manages the Consumer Brand Metrics program, which delivers exclusive consumer attitudes toward and usage of 100+ leading restaurant chains, retailers and convenience stores.

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