Serving up the facts on eating out

More than half of all Australians have visited a fast food restaurant in the past month, and 40 per cent of those are loyal to one or two brands, according to a new report by emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia).

Not only that, but when it comes to fast food, consumers are likely to put price and convenience far above taste – largely regardless of income.

The Out of Home Dining Industry Report is the first of its kind published by emma. It contains data on consumption, market segments, customer profiles based on age, income and occupation, data on usage across different states and cities, as well as an overview of media usage among quick service restaurant customers.

A rich consumer profile

The report reveals that 81 per cent of Australians eat out at least once a month. This activity includes 51.5 million visits to a quick service restaurant (QSR) every month, with 22 per cent of these consumers loyal to one brand, and 19 per cent loyal to two brands.

McDonald’s topped the list as the most popular brand among Australians, with 42 per cent of fast food-consuming Australians visiting the Golden Arches in the past four weeks. It was followed by Subway (29 per cent), KFC (23 per cent), Hungry Jack’s (16 per cent) and Domino’s Pizza (11 per cent).

However, as Ipsos Media CT managing director Simon Wake points out, when consideration is taken into account, the preferences are broader.

“The number of consumers willing to consider eating at Subway is much higher than those who actually visit the chain, with 52 per cent of fast food consumers considering it, but only 29 per cent purchasing,” he said. “McDonald’s leads on conversion, with 42 per considering Maccas and 39 per cent purchasing.

“Every marketer wants to know as much as possible about their consumers and that is exactly what the report delivers – a rich consumer profile.”

Key drivers for QSR consumers

In the case of the emma Out of Home Dining Report, the data uncovered three key drivers for QSR consumers: price and convenience, health and taste.

Price and convenience was the most popular choice, with more than two thirds of the population choosing a fast food chain on this basis. The next key driver was health, with a quarter of Australians carefully selecting a healthy option. Taste was ranked as a key choice by just eight per cent of people.

Income also was not a major consideration, Mr Wake said. “There is a clear correlation between eating out and takeaway and income, with higher income earners eating out and buying takeaway more frequently. However, this is not the case with quick service restaurants, which attract all levels of income earners,” he said.

“This kind of information can drive anything from product development to placement and advertising.”

What’s next from emma

The Out of Home Dining report will be the first of many produced regularly for the various product categories emma data covers.

“The plans are aligned with market needs for the major reports, but we are also quite willing to react to any specific needs,” Mr Wake said. “One of the main characteristics of emma is that it is above all a collaborative product, born out of industry consultation. We intend to follow that principle in everything we do so we’ll be listening to the market intently and responding to any needs that arise.

“There is a wealth of product data in emma and we wanted to present that data in a way that would benefit our clients the most.

“The industry reports will bring a detailed overview of a particular industry and offer a sort of an ‘everything you wanted to know about’ type document.”

See what else the report serves up by downloading an abbreviated version below, or visit emma.com.au.

For more news from The Newspaper Works, click here.

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