One-Size-Fits All Is Out: How Consumers Vary by Market

Many restaurants are starting to adopt a more localized approach to menu development, marketing and operations to develop targeted strategies and offerings. Tailoring the experience to consumers in a particular market begins with understanding the local consumer.

To that end, Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics program allows operators and suppliers to filter consumer brand tracking data by designated market area (DMA), revealing differences in demographic composition, unique traffic drivers and overall foodservice behavior. Our recent white paper, “Going Local: Variations in Consumer Attitudes & Usage by Market,” highlights consumers in three DMAs―Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta―to demonstrate some of these differences.

For example, consumers in each DMA differ in terms of which attributes are especially important in their decisions to visit restaurants.

Source: Technomic Inc., 2015 Consumer Brand Metrics white paper Going Local: Variations in Consumer Attitudes & Usage by Market"

Source: Technomic Inc., Consumer Brand Metrics white paper Going Local: Variations in Consumer Attitudes & Usage by Market

In Los Angeles, the eco-friendly, health-nut stereotype is more alive than ever. Compared to the national average, Los Angelenos place high importance on natural/organic menu items, recycling programs, healthy options and free-range poultry/grass-fed beef.

Unlike Los Angeles and Atlanta, Chicago has vast changes in weather throughout the year. Consequently, Chicagoans appreciate seasonal changes, thus the importance of seasonal and limited-time menu items. Service and ambiance (clean restaurant, friendly service and welcoming/comfortable atmosphere) are particularly important to consumers in Chicago.

Known for its rich, hearty food, the South embodies a distinct cuisine. So it’s no surprise that consumers in Atlanta place more importance on unique items and portion sizes than the rest of the country. Atlantans also value the quality of takeout packaging in their decision to visit a restaurant. This attribute reinforces the need for operators in this market to offer sturdy packaging that travels well during to-go occasions.

The attributes that are important to consumers also influence their overall visit satisfaction. For instance, consumers in Chicago rank Seasons 52, a restaurant known for offering fresh, seasonal ingredients, as the highest across all chains in visit satisfaction. Among chains in Los Angeles, In-N-Out excels, as it emphasizes the use of quality, locally sourced ingredients. Consumers in Atlanta rate Chick-fil-A, a company praised for its Southern hospitality, the highest in visit satisfaction.

Understanding consumers’ differences and similarities across DMAs is influential when developing targeted strategies. To learn more about consumer differences across regions, download the complete white paper: “Going Local: Variations in Consumer Attitudes & Usage by Market.”

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Jenna Greenfield

Jenna Greenfield is a Consumer Research Analyst at Technomic Inc. She works on 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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