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How Dining Decisions are Made
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Ever wanted to get inside the mind of your customer and see how they make their dining decisions? Or more importantly, why they chose the restaurant down the street instead of your location? In a Foodservice Radio interview, Carin Oliver, Chief Innovation Officer with Angelsmith, takes us through a recent study that analyzes the dining decision-making process and how you can use this information to attract more customers.

The Angelsmith study consisted of a survey of bloggers, reporters and fine dining enthusiasts, conducted in the first quarter of 2012. "What we really wanted to do was take a deep dive into the restaurant category and find out not only who and what was most influential when consumers are deciding on a restaurant, but understand what steps they take. We also looked to determine that final piece that makes them open their wallet and sit down and pay for a meal," says Oliver.

"Not surprisingly, when consumers are looking for a new restaurant to try, the thing that influences their dining decision most is a trusted friend, family member or co-worker," Oliver continues. "Almost half cited friends and family members as most influential when looking for a restaurant. Second to that they mentioned consumer generated websites like YELP, Urbanspoon, City Search, and also food bloggers and then newspapers food critics." But the research did contain some surprises. "We found that when we asked them if they do any additional research, more than 80% came back and said yes. That was very interesting because the idea that you would get a restaurant recommendation and then not act on it is pretty compelling. We also took a next step and asked when you do research, where do you go?"

After receiving the recommendation the diners are most likely to visit restaurant's website or check YELP or other consumer generated review sites. "Those were in a near statistical tie," according to Oliver. "The surprising point there is not that people are checking YELP, because I think that everyone understands the sites are important and growing in influence, but that the restaurant's website has so much power to sway a dining decision. Your website, which you have complete control over, can really be a powerful force when someone is considering your restaurant."

"Restaurant blogs and bloggers were the next most important place people search after they receive a restaurant recommendation. Newspaper food critics were in the fourth place but when we did a crosstab against those hyper-influential people who are always asked for restaurant recommendations, we found that they were reporting readership of both blogs and newspapers far above your average respondent. That really tells me that those newspaper food critics are very influential to people who make the most recommendations," Oliver concludes.

For more information on Angelsmith and to get excerpts from the study, visit