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After tearing past grocery stores in monthly sales in December 2014 for the first time ever, US restaurant spending continues to rule the playing field, according to research released in May 2015 by the National Restaurant Association (NRA). While grocery store sales exceeded restaurant sales by $1.6 billion in June 2014, the story was the opposite by April 2015, when restaurant sales topped grocery store sales by $1.5 billion.
February 2015 polling by AlixPartners found that consumers were dining out more, as US internet users reported doing so about 16% more frequently each month last year than in 2013; during that timeframe, per-person monthly spending on dining out rose from $143 to $149.
AlixPartners noted that increased dining out was “encouraged by lower gas prices, higher employment, and greater confidence in the economy,” which is in line with further findings from the NRA. Among the 33% of consumers who said they were visiting restaurants more frequently than a year ago, the most common reasons for doing so included a higher confidence in their financial situation (63%), lower gas prices (56%) and a rise in household income (46%). New jobs and more valuable home investments each had an influence as well.
Restaurants focused on driving offline foot traffic can leverage online channels to do so. One option? Digital video. In a Q1 2015 study by Videology, the restaurant industry ranked No. 2 for digital video ad impressions served by the video ad platform in the US, at 18%.
Social media is another digital channel that restaurants can utilize. In November 2014 polling by BrandSpark in partnership with Better Homes and Gardens, restaurants were the most popular company type that US Facebook users followed on the social network, cited by 63% and ahead of manufacturers of food or beverages (58%) and grocery retailers (45%).
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