Atmosphere beats price in fast food restaurants

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on September 30, 2002

Good food and a friendly atmosphere, but not necessarily low prices, will keep customers coming back to fast food restaurants, according to a recent poll by marketing trends analysts

SupermarketGuru's Philip Lempert initiated the survey on casual dining as part of the site's monthly online poll. Commenting on the survey's results, Lempert said, "McDonalds and Burger King recently slashed their prices but this poll suggests that's not the way to go. All it will do is make current customers happier but it won't bring in new customers."

Price insensitive
Of the 600 consumer panellists that responded to the online poll, 43% said that good food is the most important factor that keeps them returning to a restaurant, while 40% said that both good food and atmosphere kept them coming back. Only 16% wanted reasonable prices above anything else.

The poll also revealed that patrons are split about dining with children. While 28% said they never eat out with their children, 30% said they sometimes do. Some 26% said they do so frequently, while only 4% said they always do.

Value, not gimmicks
"This is a message to restauranteurs that it's not about price but value," commented Lempert. "People understand they get what they pay for, and as long as the food is good and it's a comfortable atmosphere, they're willing to pay repeatedly for it. Slashing prices and adding bells and whistles to impress the children isn't always the answer."

Lempert points out that, in a summer 2002 Consumer Pre*View poll from AC Nielsen, 43% of Americans planned on dining out less often during the remainder of the year. This suggests that fast food restaurant patrons still want value and service before cheaper prices and marketing gimmicks.

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