New research from Mintel shows that posting food pictures has gone beyond a few fringe foodies and is infiltrating the mainstream: 13 percent of those who have dined out in the past month and use social media have posted a food or drink picture to social media, which equates to approximately 29.2 million people.
To put that into context, just 39 percent of social media users report posting their own updates at least a few times a week.
In a news release, Mintel said 14 percent of consumers also engage with restaurants by posting positive comments on a brand’s social media page.
Other key statistics for operators to consider in the social media age:
To establish customer loyalty and enhance tech-savvy diners’ experience, Mintel suggests combining traditional loyalty programs with technology platforms.
Most respondents (69 percent) indicate they prefer loyalty programs that issue points toward future purchases. Yet despite a stated preference for loyalty programs, 42 percent say that loyalty programs that track ordering habits feel invasive.
"Brands must walk the fine line of providing enough value to customers in exchange for their information," Bethany Wall, foodservice analyst at Mintel, said in a news release. "Mobile apps and other technologies by operators and third parties have made it easier than ever for consumers to find information such as nutrition and locations, make reservations, order, pay, leave reviews and feedback and participate in loyalty programs. In return for these conveniences, restaurants can use these apps to collect great amounts of information that can be mined in order to determine the best way to reach and communicate with consumers."
The most preferred deals, according to the research, are:
"With recent (technology) advances, restaurants can create a unique, fully customizable experience for consumers, as well as provide faster speed and improved convenience,” Wall said. “The key is to be unique, responsive and creative, and to provide a benefit that exceeds the hesitation of the customer. Getting them in the door is just first step, but keeping them coming back is the real key."