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Light Restaurant Users Are Actually Extremely Valuable

CHICAGO — If half of light restaurant users in the United States made just one more visit per year, it would be an incremental increase in sales of $1.1 billion according to new data from The NPD Group's Checkout Tracking receipt mining service.

NPD's new Losing Our Appetites for Restaurants report examines why consumers have cut back on foodservice visits and which type of users — heavy, medium, light, and super light —decreased their visits the most.

Three quarters of consumers (75 percent) who have decreased their restaurant visits say they watch how they spend their money on most or all purchases, and a high percentage of these respondents think that restaurant prices are too high, according to the report.

The consumers who have cut back on restaurant visits the most are heavy restaurant users, who typically visit restaurants three or more times per week. This group's cutback on visits was a major factor in foodservice traffic growth coming to a halt.

Light users, who typically visit restaurants one time per week, and super-light users, who visit less than one time a week, are still extremely valuable customers even though they do not visit as often, NPD found. Together, these two groups account for 47 percent of all restaurant customers in a year, and they spend more than heavy users. Regular discounts and, even more importantly, discounts of their choosing would encourage them to make more restaurant visits, these customers reported.

"Many restaurant operators have spent much of their resources and time in rewarding heavy buyers," stated Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD and author of the report. "It's important to continue recognizing heavy buyers, but to grow their business, operators need to increase visit frequency from all user groups, including light and super light users."

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