A recent study by market research firm Technomic discovered that consumers who embrace new technologies also frequent restaurants more often.
According to a Nation’s Restaurant News article that reported on the Technomic findings, 83% of technology innovators (which were 8% of those surveyed) and 72% of technology early adopters (which were 15% of those surveyed) order from a quick-service restaurant at least once per week. That is significantly higher than the overall average of 65%. Furthermore, the study found that 53% of technology innovators and 35% of early adopters order from fast-casual restaurants at least once per week. That is compared with just 20% for the average consumer.
What this means for restaurants is that it pays to focus on technology to engage a certain set of consumers, which just so happens to be a rather profitable set of consumers. Interestingly enough, the leader in embracing technology to engage guests is the fast food pizza industry. Many of the big brands have developed iPhone apps, web ordering, delivery tracking, and other fun features, according to the NRN article.
In addition to simply reaching the right consumer, restaurants can profit from technology in another way: when guests pay by credit card, studies have indicated that they spend more. With online ordering, payment is almost always by credit card, and many automated upselling opportunities exist.
It will be interesting to watch the percentage of the population that is classified as technology innovators and early adopters grow, and in tandem, to watch how various segments of the restaurant industry respond. Four- and five-star restaurants may claim that they have little use for iPhone apps when their tasting menus cost well over $100 per person, but the data indicates that probably is not true. What will be intriguing is observing how fine dining and upscale restaurants employ technology, yet use it differently from their midscale, fast casual, and quick service restaurant counterparts.