IGD unveiled four key factors that influence people’s decisions when eating out.
The first was mission or occasion. IGD found everyday occasions such as lunchtime saw consumers choosing tried-and-tested favourites, whereas special events were much more about treating themselves.
Unsurprisingly, there was a clear spike in eating and drinking out of home on Fridays (51%) and Saturdays (50%), reinforcing the idea that many out-of-home eating occasions were a treat or a break from routine.
Companions were the second key factor. IGD found that people eating out alone tended to stick to their usual food choices, but when with friends or children were encouraged to try new things or visit different places.
The third area was mood, where the need to eat or drink fulfilled a functional need.
Finally, there was the influence of speed or convenience. Often, out-of-home eating decisions were made in time-pressed circumstances when people needed easy choices.
“The language of health is often about denying yourself and removing items from your diet, which can sometimes conflict with how people think when they eat out, when pleasure and relaxation are front of mind,” said Rhian Thomas, shopper insight manager at IGD.
“However, by repositioning how they talk about health, using positive language and embracing certain types of food, there is a huge opportunity for food and drink companies to win by linking the two big trends for health consciousness and eating out."
IGD's research had three elements: a mobile-enabled study of a select group of consumers, with a record of their eating and drinking experiences over a three-week period; accompanied out-of-home dining experiences; and an online survey of 9,000 consumers.