On the whole, consumers believe the economy is doing better and on-premise visits are increasing so far in 2017. In fact, nearly 78% of the 1,120 consumers surveyed in Next Level Marketing's annual report (conducted in February) are going out to eat and drink the same or more than last year, with 70% spending the same or more at bars and restaurants.
"Having a quality beverage program is a big factor in how consumers choose where to go," Mike Ginley of Next Level Marketing said at the recent Vibe conference. 79% of those surveyed said they typically order alcohol most or every time they go out, and they drink 2.4 drinks on average, per occasion.
The consumers surveyed visit casual dining chains most often, though millennials are three times more likely to visit quick serve restaurants, or fast casual concepts, than their older counterparts. Their top restaurant decision factors are:
. Food quality (56%)
. Convenient location (29%)
. Fun atmosphere (23%)
. Food & drink value prices (23%)
. Service speed (22%)
. Drink quality (20%)
PRICE STILL NUMBER 1. When asked what the most important elements of a beverage program are, consumers said good value prices (36%) and great drink quality (31%) were the top answers, with happy hour specials close behind (29%). Consumers said the most important menu elements are prices (52%), descriptions (38%), brands (34%), pictures (26%) and pairing suggestions (24%).
Consumers believe a standard glass of wine is priced at about $6.88 and a premium glass at $7.77. Similarly, they expect a standard cocktail to be around $6.76 and a premium cocktail at $7.41. (Your editors would love to know where they're drinking.)
SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE. The survey also looked into how consumers are using social media to research and/or make decisions when it comes to choosing where to go. Nearly 40% of respondents said they use social media to plan visits and 89% say they use it to look up beverage information.
Facebook is used the most at 74% and Instagram is second at 39%. The information most often searched for or shared on social media includes: drink quality (41%), customer reviews (40%), drink photos (38%), promotions (36%) and drink prices (31%).
Mike also shared something he calls The Uber Effect, noting that the average 2.4 drinks order jumps to 3.5 when consumers use ride share services. 38% of all consumers use ride sharing services regularly when they go out to eat and drink, compared to 56% of Millennials who do so.