Infrequent Diners Could Save Fast Food

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As we’ve covered in previous posts, dining at fast food restaurants is down. At CivicScience, we’ve tied the trend to rising healthcare costs, among other trends. Our data shows a steady decrease of people who dine weekly at Quick Service Restaurants (QSR), but an increase in “a few times a month” visitors. In addition, once a  month or less visitors account for 32% of the diner base for fast food restaurants.

QSRs shouldn’t despair. Instead, they may be able to focus in on these infrequent diners. As The NPD Group notes, this group of patrons is a valuable asset to the industry, and QSRs should start taking notice of infrequent, or light diners.

Let’s take a look at what fast food restaurants can do to attract diners to visit more frequently.

“A few times a month” Diners

Value meal diners. People who eat at fast food joints only a few times a month are more likely to be interested in eating value menu items. Seeing that the value item is a staple of QSRs, they should consider heavier marketing of their new deals, perhaps with new items, to appeal to this group.

Packing lunch. Don’t play the lunch card hoping you’ll get this group. These diners are less likely to eat out for lunch and more likely to eat at home.

Eating for the Instagram. People who eat at fast food restaurants a few times a month are more likely to choose food items based on social media influence. These diners can be classified as heavy social media users. Fast food spots would be wise to remember the social media buzz of Mac n Cheetos or the Whopperrito.

“Less than Once a Month” Diners

Healthy eaters. People who eat at fast food joints less than once a month tend to favor healthy menu choices. As fast food menu options continue to consider healthy, this may encourage this group of infrequent diners.

Coffee drinkers. Less than monthly fast food visitors are more likely to drink coffee regularly. While QSRs almost always have a brew on hand, it might benefit them to bolster their bean programs. Offering a premium roast or more advertising of their more high-end coffee items would be a good way to get these diners in the door.

Go green. This group has several habits that indicate environmental behaviors. They use reusable shopping bags, recycle and buy locally grown food. If QSRs can find a way to promote green practices within their stores and menu items, they could see this group continue their trend. While it sounds counterintuitive, adopting some of these trends can make QSR and Fast Casual restaurants more appealing to diners who visit less frequently. This can ensure that they’ll return at least at the current frequency, if not more.