Cravings Matter: Consumer Search Behavior

Before today’s age of intelligent services, families used to ask, “Where should we go eat?” Today, that where is now a what because how consumers decide where to eat has changed. Consumers now search for whatever they’re craving (whether it’s Mexican food or pizza) over twice as often than the name of a restaurant itself — and they expect immediate and direct answers to their search queries.*

Intelligent services like smart devices, AI, and voice search are quickly becoming the norm — not just in our daily lives, but also in our search habits. According to Andrew Ng, formerly of Baidu, it is estimated that 50% of all searches will be completed via either speech or image search by 2020. Additionally, eMarketer shows that the use of voice-enabled speakers will grow by 130% in the next year. As the most searched-for local business category, restaurants are already seeing the biggest impact of this evolution, and need to be prepared to provide searchers with answers to their queries — especially when it’s about specific foods they’re craving.

When searching for a restaurant, 68% of consumers search by cuisine or food item – not by restaurant name.* Hungry searchers want to know if your restaurant has what they’re searching for, and it’s important that you show them, since 66% of consumers compare three or more dining options before choosing where to eat.* In fact, 76% of consumers say that they’re more likely to choose a restaurant that provides detailed information in search results, and 83% of consumers read the menu before deciding where to eat.*

On top of this, the faster the food, the quicker a consumer will make a dining decision. Quick service restaurants have the highest average engagement rate (the quality of interaction between users and content). 63% of consumers say that they eat at a restaurant within a day of researching it online, and 30% go within an hour.

Consumers not only want things now, they want to be very well-informed about the food before stepping foot into a restaurant. This is especially common among fine dinners. Fine dining engagement rates increase 56% from Monday to Saturday, meaning that these consumers are researching days in advance.

Throughout the year, seasonality affects consumer engagement actions. Travel tends to happen during summer months, so consumers are more likely to dine out. In fact, in June and July, restaurants receive an average of 7.3% more daily engagement actions than two months before – and two months after. During the holiday months in November and December, consumers are more likely to eat out during the week than on the weekends when they prefer to spend time with their families. To reach consumers during key time periods, restaurants can:

  • Add rich attributes (price range, meals service, attire required)
  • Ensure menu items are accurate and up-to-date

For a restaurant to succeed in today’s evolving digital landscape, it’s essential to have accurate, detailed, and up-to-date menus. For more information on how to optimize your restaurant’s information, check out our infographic, Where Should We Eat?, and our latest whitepaper, The Hungry Searcher: How Restaurants Can Attract More Diners Today.

* Yext Local Search Behavior Study, July 2017

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