Nearly one in four households with children (24%) are dining out or ordering food more frequently, according to a new report from TransUnion (NYSE: TRU). Four in 10 households with children (40%) indicated that returning to work in offices would lead them to spend more on restaurants. Also, higher grocery prices, due to continued inflation pressures, were a commonly cited reason for dining out/ordering more often across households both with and without children (37%).

Heading into the end of 2023, two-thirds of consumer households (64%) planned to spend at the same levels with restaurants as they did over the second and third quarters of the year. For more than half of consumers (58%), that amounts to dining out or ordering once or twice per week and spending less than $150 per week. However, households with children were more likely to frequent restaurants – three to four times a week – and more than half plan to spend between $150 and $500 each week on dining out.

“Household composition is very influential on how often consumers dine out or order in,” said Cecilia Seiden, vice president of TransUnion’s travel and hospitality business. “Consumers with children are much more likely to rely on restaurants to help feed their families—and returning to offices is increasing the need for easy and fast dinner options.”

The report details consumer attitudes and behaviors when engaging with Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) and dining establishments, including preferences for ordering in-person or via mobile apps, participation in loyalty programs, experiences with fraud, and more. Full findings are available in the 2023 TransUnion QSR Report.

Traditional vs. Premium QSRsTraditional Quick Service Restaurants, like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, proved to be the top choice for households with and without children. Those with children frequented these spots slightly more often, with 77% patronizing traditional QSRs at least once per week, compared to 69% of households without children. However, this usage gap widened across other dining categories.

Dining Experiences Chosen At Least Once per Week by Households with and without Children

Household Types Traditional QSRs(e.g., McDonald’s and Wendy’s) Premium QSRs(e.g., Chipotle and Panera) Delivery Full-service Restaurants (with waitstaff)
With Children 77 % 68 % 66 % 62 %
Without Children 69 % 50 % 51 % 39 %

The report also explored the various factors that help consumers decide where to eat. Price was the top priority for all consumers, followed by menu and location. Again, differences appeared when segmented by households with and without children.

For example, attractive menu items are important to nearly 60% of households without children but just 47% of households with children. Conversely, speed of service was identified as a key factor by 32% of households with children but only 21% of households without.

“The overall hierarchy of factors determining where people choose to eat remained true for both households with and without children,” said Colleen Thiry, director of TransUnion’s travel and hospitality business. “However, there were different emphases from both groups, meaning it’s crucial for restaurants to understand what qualities will draw households without children versus those with children.”

How consumers order outOne surprising finding from the report was that, even with the popularity of online shopping and digital experiences, ordering in-person to carry out ranked as the top choice across all generations. There is one caveat: Gen Z consumers equally prefer using a restaurant’s mobile app or website, an option firmly ranked in second place for all other generations.

Convenience is the primary reason consumers of all generations order through a restaurant’s mobile app. However, Millennials were also more likely to cite loyalty points and special offers as a reason for using this option.

Top Three Benefits to Using Restaurant Apps, by Generation

Generation Convenience Special Offers Loyalty Points
Gen Z 46 % 35 % 30 %
Millennial 49 % 46 % 41 %
Gen X 59 % 46 % 33 %
Baby Boomer 60 % 35 % 38 %

When ordering via third-party apps, Gen Z and Millennial consumers were most likely to cite restaurant variety and the ability to order delivery from restaurants that don’t offer it directly as important reasons for using this option. Features such as showing delivery time, allowing consumers to select the quickest delivery option, and the ability to opt for pick up over delivery to save time and money were also popular.

“Consumers most prefer to order food in person and take it home for now; however, there is a generational shift leaning toward mobile app usage,” said Thiry. “Understanding the rationale for why consumers choose to order through a specific restaurant app versus a third-party app will help both types of businesses better position their benefits to maximize market share.”

For more information, read the 2023 TransUnion QSR Report.

Restaurants and third-party app platforms can leverage tools like the TransUnion TruAudience™ line of solutions to help model, create and activate relevant audiences.

In addition, the TransUnion TruValidate™ line of solutions, which includes identity and device proofing technologies, can reduce friction for legitimate purchases while catching fraudsters early with insight into device history, reputation and behavior.

About the researchThis online survey of 1,564 adults was conducted in August 2023, by TransUnion in partnership with third-party research provider, Dynata. Survey participants included adults 18 years of age and older residing in the United States- who have patronized a restaurant within the past 3 months. Participants were surveyed using an online research panel method across a combination of desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. Survey questions were administered in English. All U.S. regions are represented in the study survey responses. To ensure general population sample representativeness across United States resident demographics, the survey targeted respondents in line with the census statistics on the dimensions of age, household income, and region. Generations are defined as follows: Gen Z, born 1996- 2005; Millennials, born 1981-1995; Gen X, born 1966-1980; Baby Boomers, born 1945-1965; and Silent, born 1928-1944. These research results are unweighted and statistically significant at a 95% confidence level within ±2.5 percentage points based on calculated error margin. Please note some chart percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding or multiple answers being accepted.

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) 

TransUnion is a global information and insights company with over 12,000 associates operating in more than 30 countries. We make trust possible by ensuring each person is reliably represented in the marketplace. We do this with a Tru™ picture of each person: an actionable view of consumers, stewarded with care. Through our acquisitions and technology investments we have developed innovative solutions that extend beyond our strong foundation in core credit into areas such as marketing, fraud, risk and advanced analytics. As a result, consumers and businesses can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good® — and it leads to economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for millions of people around the world. http://www.transunion.com/business

Contact Dave BlumbergTransUnion
E-mail david.blumberg@transunion.com
Telephone 312-972-6646
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