Published November 3, 2023 | Last Updated December 2, 2023
Digital signage software and solutions providerCreative Realities, Inc.(aka CRI)has published a detailed set of findings from an online survey this fall that digs into the ordering habits and interests of Americans when they visit fast-food restaurants – with some interesting insights like how diners are pretty set on what they’re going to have before they even look at a menu.
The 2023 “Menu Mastery: Unveiling American Ordering Habits” reportwas conducted in September by the third-party platform Pollfish. The good news is the data is free to read and doesn’t even ask for an email address to get a sense of reader interest (note – I think an email address is a fair trade as long as it isn’t then abused).
Old habits die hard: 57% of those surveyed said they have a few different go-to items they order each time they go to specific restaurants, and 30% order the same thing every time – meaning only 13% go to a QSR without an idea of what to order.
Drive-thrus continue to dominate: 52% of respondents said they most frequently order through the drive-thru. Ordering via app follows with 18% preferring that option, and only 15% order inside at a counter.
Special imagery and exclusives inspire order changes: 51% say that great imagery will cause them to linger a little longer on the menu, and 86% said a limited-time offer or promotion could affect their order. Additionally, over 90% said a seasonal special will at least get them to consider revisiting a restaurant.
“The American appetite is shaped by a unique demand for convenience, comfort and predictability,”says Beth Warren, CRI’s SVP Marketing.“Quick service restaurants and drive-thrus play an integral role in our daily lives. Despite most of us being extremely online the majority of the time, the physical experience of going out and getting a fast, quality meal remains both a novelty and a staple for American diners. Restaurants are wise to honor the habits and preferences of diners, but it’s smart business to trust that people are open to trying something new if it’s presented in a way that appeals to them.”
Additional insights showed that in-store promotional signage tends to have a greater impact on changing ordering behavior than social media or word-of-mouth. Furthermore, the design and layout of the menu itself can play a crucial role in either encouraging or dissuading specific ordering choices.
“A well-designed menu in the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry holds unparalleled power to influence diner behaviors,”adds Warren. “The strategic use of digital signage in crafting visually appealing, informative, and dynamic menus can guide customers towards specific choices, enhance order efficiency, and boost sales. In a world where time is of the essence and options abound, QSRs are poised to maintain a significant role in the American approach to dining and convenience.”