by Marisa Bidois, CEO, Restaurant Association of New Zealand

The research for our Dining Out study has recently been completed. This research was conducted to try and understand the dining habits of New Zealanders. The funding for this research was granted by the Hospitality Training Trust which we would like to extend our appreciation to.

This research has been carried out in past years so we were able to compare the findings from 2013 to 2017 and gauge consumer confidence in our industry and identify any changes in behaviour that may have occurred or is likely to occur. The information was gathered from hundreds of New Zealanders aged 18 years or older nationwide and the research was conducted by UMR.

We have summarised the key findings below.

Frequency of eating out

  • The frequency of eating out is relatively unchanged since 2013, although it has increased since 2012 when it was at its lowest. This year, nearly half of respondents (47 percent) claimed they eat out at least once a week.
  • One-fifth of respondents (22 percent) said they eat out once a fortnight and 13 percent said they eat out once a month.

Influencers of dining choice

  • The top three influencers of dining choice remain; reputation for quality food, excellent service and affordable menu.
  • Having a good atmosphere and a convenient location were also important when choosing a place to dine.
  • Offering a discount on the bill continued to be the lowest rated aspect.

Sources of information

  • The stand out source of information to find places to eat is still word of mouth.
  • ‘Restaurant websites’, ‘Flyers, outdoor signage and menus on windows’ and ‘Online reviews and restaurant blogs’ and social media were mentioned by a third of respondents (33 percent, 32 percent and 31 percent respectively).
  • ‘Coupon books and advertised special offers’ continued to decline this year with only 17 percent mentioning this source.

Change in dining habits over last 12 months

  • The majority of respondents indicated they had not changed their dining habits over the last 12 months.
  • This year over a quarter of respondents (27 percent) mentioned that they eat out less frequently, while 13 percent mentioned they eat at less expensive establishments.

Changing dining habits in next 12 months

  • A similar trend is present in the 2017 results for the way respondents anticipate the change in their dining habits for the next 12 months.
  • Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) indicated there will be no difference to how often they eat out over the next 12 months while a minority (9 percent) said they will be eating out more over the next 12 months.

Local produce

  • Similar to the results from 2013, over half of respondents (53 percent) prefer to eat dishes made with ingredients sourced from within New Zealand.
  • Over a quarter (27 percent) indicated they have no preference where the ingredients are sourced from.
  • A smaller percentage (13 percent) would prefer local ingredients to be used but are not willing to pay extra.
  • A minority (6 percent) stated they are happy to pay a premium to eat dishes that are made from locally sourced ingredients.